If you spent this past weekend racking your brain for something to do in the bitter Rochester winter but could only come up with going to the library, watching Real World re-runs, stalking your Facebook friends and making the miserable, cold trek to the frat quad, you may want to reconsider your options this weekend. You can start by checking out the Greater Rochester Visitor Association’s annual Coldrush, a program designed to raise residents’ awareness of area activities.

The initiative is meant to give Rochester residents, as well as visitors, the means to entertain themselves during the inevitable lull that takes place in the first three months of the new year.

“People always say there’s nothing to do in Rochester in the winter, so we wanted to show people what Rochester has to offer,” Patti Donoghue, the Greater Rochester Visitor Association’s Director of Public Relations, said. “We took a look at what events were happening in Rochester in the winter and essentially just compiled a list.”

The list is posted on the web and can be accessed at www.goforthecold.com or via the Visitor’s Association homepage. The site lists artistic, cultural, family-friendly and recreational events, which take place both in and outdoors in the Greater Rochester area.

This year’s list includes a number of Coldrush staples, including the Lakeside Winter Celebration, which takes place Feb. 11 at Ontario Beach Park and features snow sculpting competitions, boat races, dog-sledding and the “Chilly Chili Challenge” to name Rochester’s “hottest” chili.

A newcomer to the Coldrush program, Simply Crpes, a restaurant located in downtown Rochester, is hosting the “Ultimate CrepExperience,” with a crpe-making demonstration by the restaurant’s owner, Pierre Heroux, and the opportunity to make your own crpes.

“Many customers are awed by crpes and how they are made, and this is a great chance for them to learn and then try it themselves,” Rachel Roman said, who assists in managing both of Simply Crepes’ Rochester locations. “It also gives us another opportunity to promote downtown Rochester and help in the revival of this great city we have so close to us.”

While you may think Rochester is lacking an active social scene for college students, one look at the Coldrush program will prove you wrong.

“Coldrush is certainly not all about events geared toward young kids,” Donoghue said. “There are plenty of artistic and cultural events that appeal to adults and college students.”

Among those events are several wine tastings and festivals, such as the Mardi Gras Celebration taking place Feb. 2-3 in the Village of Hammondsport or the Fire and Ice Festival at Casa Larga Vineyards, where you can learn about the process of making Ice Wine.

The Web site also offers a list of some of Rochester’s highly-regarded “Hot Spots,” including nightclubs, multiple screen sports bars, dance floors, microbreweries and trendy restaurants to explore.

In addition to what goes on after dark, you’ll want to venture into one of Rochester’s many museums or galleries for an afternoon. The Eastman House is displaying a multi-media presentation on the genocidal war in Darfur, while the Center at High Falls presents “Photographer’s Path X,” an exhibition of local photographers’ work.

Coldrush also boasts a number of different comedy clubs, as well as musical and theatrical performances throughout the area. According to the Coldrush program, the Strasenburgh Planetarium is offering a double feature of the Dave Matthews Band and the Beatles set to laser light every Saturday in February, and B.B. King will perform on March 2 at the Auditorium Theatre.

Coldrush has already had a significant impact on Rochester residents, who, according to Donoghue, are increasingly less critical of the winter season. Now it’s UR’s turn to feel the “Rush.”

“It used to always be easy to say ‘oh gee, the weather,'” Donoghue said, “but now people get excited for all the fun activities Rochester has to offer despite the winter weather.”

Fischer is a member of the class of 2008.

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