By Eva Potter 

Approximately 700 special education students from Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES region participated in the annual Winter Carnival on March 5–6, 2013, at the Holiday Valley Tubing Park.

Over the course of two days, students and teachers from non-BOCES classrooms came from Allegany-Limestone, Andover, Bolivar-Richburg, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Cuba-Rushford, Ellicottville, Hinsdale, Olean, Pioneer, Portville, Randolph, Wellsville, West Valley and Whitesville. Students and teachers from BOCES classes came from Allegany County, Olean, Pioneer, Portville and Salamanca to participate in a fun day of outdoor events.

“For me, the most rewarding thing is seeing the kids who are either in wheelchairs and get to go down the tubing hill for the first time and the kids who have never done anything like this before,” said Debbie Golley, carnival event coordinator and special education supervisor for Southern Cattaraugus County. “Some kids are so scared the first time down the hill and then they are so excited to go again. It is just exciting to see that many kids playing outside and participating, which is why we started this event in the first place.”

The two-day event included an obstacle course, tubing, snow soccer, broom hockey along with indoor games. Hayrides were also provided courtesy of Pumpkinville and the BOCES Ellicottville Career and Technical Center.

Golley said, “Tubing is always the most popular, as our kids do not have the opportunity to do something like this very often. Broom hockey is very popular for the older kids.” She said Holiday Valley has many volunteers every year who are great with the students.

WPIG-FM’s Big Pig attended the event both days and balloon artist Tom O’Connor helped entertain while Bob McCarthy acted as master of ceremonies.

Golley said the annual event has always had a strong volunteer showing. Nearly 300 volunteers assisted during the events and included student volunteers from Ellicottville Central School and the Ellicottville Career and Technical Education Center.

“Holiday Valley has been terrific over the years and helps us plan the event every year,” said Golley. “Pumpkinville loaned BOCES their wagon for the hay rides and the Big Pig from WPIG volunteered his time also.”

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