[Excerpts] NORTH HERO -- City Bay's ice cap has been known to safely support houses. On Saturday afternoon, it hosted, off and on, more than 100 Grand Islanders, mainlanders, dogs and improvised conveyances -- in a giddy observance of mid-winter.

In weather that would prompt many New Englanders to cozy up inside with a good book, the first day of the Great Ice in Grand Isle celebration featured ice fishing, skating, a bonfire and barbecue.

Prudent pedestrians wore crampons or blades. The bicyclists sported studs. Nearly everyone wore gloves, and they thudded in applause when trophies were awarded near sundown for the ice fishing derby...

Brian Costello of Colchester spent most of the afternoon with other volunteer adults, assembling a clear-plastic and wood-ribbed warming hut. He said he spends a lot of time in these parts in the summer, overseeing bike trails for Burlington-based nonprofit Local Motion.

"But we want people to know there's skating here," he said. "We want people to tap into this area's inherent assets, to capitalize on what we have here. And what we have here is acres and acres of fabulous ice..."

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843 or joelbaird@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com