SpikesFest will offer a glimpse of summer

Trinity Smack dances with Ike the Spike during the 2016 SpikesFest at the Penn State Multi-Sports Indoor Facility.
Trinity Smack dances with Ike the Spike during the 2016 SpikesFest at the Penn State Multi-Sports Indoor Facility. Centre Daily Times, file

After a few days of deceivingly spring-like weather, State College is back to chillier temperatures. However, rain, shine, snow or sleet, families looking to get out and about for some active entertainment are in luck this weekend, with SpikesFest being held March 5 at the Penn State Indoor Multi-Sport Facility.

SpikesFest has been a Centre Country tradition since 2007. The event, according to Joe Putnam, the manager of communications for the State College Spikes, offers “a way for families to get out of the blustery winter weather and look forward to the summertime and Spikes season.”

The one-day, indoor event is no easy task to pull off, though. Planning begins in the fall, right after the normal Spikes season ends. Ben Love, the Spike’s director of in-game entertainment and promotions, leads the planning and partners alongside a selection of local nonprofits. Mount Nittany Health has been a repeating participant and, Putnam said, a great help in bringing community initiatives to, and spreading the word about, the festival.

The wide-open spaces at the Penn State Indoor Multi-Sport Facility are the perfect backdrop for State College’s cooped-up kids and parents alike to stretch their legs, with plenty of activities for everyone.

“We ... bring our inflatable games from the ballpark to the Multi-Sport Facility and set up a Spikes merchandise kiosk to add to the atmosphere,” Putnam said.

The inflatable bounce house and obstacle course are the most popular with the youngest attendees, who make up about half of all those to visit the three-hour event, which can draw crowds of up to 2,000. Meanwhile, the older bunch can test their skills in the indoor batting cages. Another huge draw for the whole family is the mascots that mingle throughout the venue. Guests will meet Ike the Spike, the BB&T Nookie Monster, Lucky the Lion and maybe even Bob the Baseball Dog. The Nittany Dreamers Baton and Silks Corps are also set to perform.

Part of the fun, though primarily more interesting for the older crowd, is the silent auction, which benefits the Mount Nittany Health Foundation.

“We’ve got some real gems this year that are sure to attract spirited bidding. The items include a framed collage of Penn State’s epic win over Ohio State this past year, a Jack Ham autographed Steelers jersey, a Le’Veon Bell autographed Steelers jersey, a framed photo of Jesse James, a Tom Brady autographed Patriots helmet, a Hank Aaron autographed Braves jersey and much, much more,” Putnam said. “Fans can also bid on special Spikes prize packages and other, more affordable items.”

SpikesFest is for the community, with the Spikes hoping to bring a little bit of fun to their fans even in the coldest temperatures.

“We want to give fans memories that can carry them through the winter and spring and into the summer,” Putnam said.