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Heat wave doesn't stop Binghamton Pond Festival from raising money for DIFD

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By Jeremy Donovan.
CHENANGO VALLEY -- Hockey as it was meant to be.

"Just a chance to get back to the way it used to be, on ponds and skate around and have a good time," said Rob Frederick of Louisville, KY

Forty hockey teams from across the state and the country competed in the First Annual Binghamton Pond Hockey and Winter Festival at Chenango Valley State Park this past weekend. But as it seems to go in Binghamton, when you want sun you get rain, and when you want snow, you get sun.

"It is what it is, we're out here to have fun and hang with the guys, said Sean Kilpatrick of Apalachin. "It is what it is. We have to play and we'll go out there and skate and have a good time."

"Can't do anything about mother nature and the most uplifting thing, the great thing is that everyone still seems like they're having fun," said Tytus Haller, event organizer and founder. "Nobody's upset, everybody's still here having fun so that's what's important."

"If you know hockey players, they're adaptable and if we're not having fun on the ice, we're having fun off the ice," Frederick said.

Temperatures in the high 50's may have cancelled the afternoon games on Saturday and all of Sunday but the event was still a success both in bringing people outside in the winter and to raise awareness for DIFD and teen mental health.

"Everybody that's walked by stops and asked and if they don't know they want to know but more and more people do know and to us that's thrilling because it is getting out there, people are more aware of it," said Joanne Weir, Development Director, Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier.

"DIFD is a great charity and obviously it has hockey connections but it's really also a worthwhile charity that, I love seeing the money, don't mind coming here and spending some money on something like this," said Ron Crawford of Chenango Bridge.

All proceeds from the tournament went to the DIFD and MHAST.

For out-of-towners like Frederick, who had never heard of Daron Richardson or the DIFD program, it made the trip all the more worthwhile.

"I have a daughter who's 13 years old so it really resonated with me," he said. "So, it's not just a good time, it's for a really good cause so I'm glad we could contribute in that way."

While mother nature's warm embrace is the worst thing for a hockey tournament, the real success was getting people out of their homes in the winter and there's no reason why they won't come back next year.

"It's great for the community," Crawford said. "It's really an awesome thing, I think it's really going to last for a long time."

"This is a pleasure and something that is really going to take off," said Seth Turner of Dallas, TX. "Hopefully a lot of other people follow our leads and come out from out of state."

"It's a perfect setting for this tournament and I hope they do it for years to come," said JP Bonin of Boston.