Friends Make Ferndale 'Snow Bowl' a Neighborly Tradition

Residents of all ages came out to Geary Park on Saturday for the fourth annual football game.

When do friends become family? When do neighbors become friends?

In Ferndale, that seems to happen while 100 or so residents of all ages chase a football through a snowy field.

The event that drew such a crowd to Geary Park on Saturday is known as the "Snow Bowl" and has become a much-loved tradition among this close-knit group of friends and family over the past few years.

Local residents Pam Bellaver and Dan Keller came up with the idea for the football game four years ago.

"We decided that this would be a fun thing to do. So we rallied all of our friends," said Bellaver, of Oak Park.

While their first game had just 14 or 15 people, yesterday's event drew around 100 people and everyone pitched in.

Tents were set up to help people stay warm, coffee and hot cocoa was brought to share, and marshmallows were being roasted. Friends helped prepare the snow-covered field for playing and others donated matching T-shirts to help tell the four teams apart.

"It's gone from everyone bringing their own cup of coffee, to this," said Keller, who says he never imagined it would become such a big event.

But Ferndale is "such a tight-knit community" and once one family hears about it, their friends are excited to join in too.

"It's awesome. I have kids that will stop me in the grocery store and say, 'hey, we're ready!'" said Keller, a father of four. "A lot of people rearrange their holidays for it."

The group also organizes a Turkey Bowl in November and the Heartbreaker Bowl in February.

'It's a village'

Several families who have moved away but are still connected to the community also attend. Kevin Whitman, who grew up in Ferndale and now lives in Warren, brought his four kids to the Snow Bowl on Saturday.

"We've basically been lifelong friends," he said of his Ferndale neighbors who told him about the game.

Bellaver said the Ferndale area is "such a warm and supportive community" and said the winter is a great time to get together. "It brings us out of our houses and keeps that community spirit alive."

The community aspect is exactly why residents Pat and Barb Landry appreciate the football games so much.

"I love it because it's a community event," Barb Landry said. "It's starting to show the kids that it's so important to bring everyone together."

Neighborhood kids form friendships and adults expand their circle of friends, too.

"It's amazing to me," she said. "These new relationships that you form out here on the field."

Friendship seemed to be the message most conveyed by residents who stood bundled-up on the sidelines, all helping to watch the youngest children and essentially appearing as one big family.

But caring for one another isn't exclusive to this event. "It's the reason why we stay in Ferndale," Landry said. "It's a village."

Nikki B January 06, 2013 at 02:35 PM
This is cute, but I've lived in Oak Park/Ferndale all of my life and NEVER heard anything about this.
Pennie Black January 06, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Ferndale and Oak Park are two of the greatest places to live in. Barb Landry is right about it being a village. Its a wonderful place to raise kids, and where life long friendships are made.
Erik Roberts January 06, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I would have LOVED to get in on this...TOO much fun!
Jessica Schrader January 07, 2013 at 02:16 AM
Barb, thanks for adding so many great photos to the gallery!!


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