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Chili's on at annual Thornden Park fundraiser Saturday

Ready your spoons: the annual Thornden Park Chili Bowl Festival will take place Saturday Feb. 19 from noon to 4 p.m. at the field house.

The chili bowl is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Thornden Park Association , the group working to revitalize one of Syracuse's most beloved and best-known parks. Proceeds from the event are used to restore and maintaining facilities, upgrade landscaping and provide programming like the Discovery Day Camp, exercise classes.

Lyn Simmer, a TPA member, said the commercial kitchen where the Chili Bowl chilies are prepared was renovated with money raised through this and other TPA fundraisers.

Four types of chili will be available Saturday: beef and turkey, vegetarian and "Syracuse Chili," a recipe that uses local ingredients including Gianelli sausage. Enjoy a bowl for $3 or a sample plate of all four varieties for $6. Corn bread and other fixings will also be available.

"We cook 120 quarts of chili," Simmer said. Her husband and TPA President Dan Sanders is the head chef, and he and his team of sous chefs (other TPA members) will begin cooking on Thursday, she added.

This year's Chili Bowl is themed "Art in the Park" and will feature community members' artwork inspired by the park. Attendants will also be invited to submit a line inspired by the park, which will be compiled into a poem by local poet Georgia Popoff, Simmer said.

Simmer created a coloring book featuring images from throughout the park that will be debuted at Saturday's event as a way to educate kids about the park and the importance of preserving it, she said.

"It's a great way to educate kids to appreciate the park," Simmer said.

The coloring book features about a dozen images from the park, from iconic structures like the amphitheater to lesser known park gems like the Lily Pond and herb garden. The TPA has prepared 100 copies of the coloring book for Saturday's event, but the book will be available as an ongoing fundraiser for the association throughout the year.

Find out how to get your own Thornden Park coloring book and when additional copies will become available at thorndenpark.org.

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