While hundreds of "snowbirds" have headed south this harsh winter to bask in the warmer climes of Florida and other destinations, hundreds more dusted off their skis, show shoes, sleds and skates and ran head-long into the frigid temperatures.

At Longshore Club Park in Westport, hundreds frolicked in the heavy blanket of snow and on the smoothly frozen ice last weekend. As dozens of adults and children shared the ice Saturday at the Westport Police Athletic League rink at Longshore, others opted for the solitude of the snow-covered golf course, which created optimal conditions for cross-country skiing.

"It's nice to jump outside the doorstep and come right on the golf course," said Kathy Rockwood, of Westport. "Today, I appreciate the tracks that people made," she said, referring to the two thin paths created by skiers who were out earlier in the day, making travel a bit easier for those who skied later.

"This is perfect -- perfect snow, blue sky, sun, no wind," said skier Lauren Festa, of Westport, who was substituting one physical activity for another. "I'm a rollerblader. I can't do that right now. This is the longest I've gone without rollerblading -- four days," she said.

Norwalk residents Alex Solan and Erin Wedepohl, both 26, said they usually travel to upstate New York to do their cross-country skiing, but were grateful for the chance to ski closer to home. "We're taking advantage of having this much snow," Solan said.

"We don't usually have this much snow on the ground," Wedepohl said.

A handful of people walked their dogs through the snow, several took a brisk walk and at least two people jogged through Longshore, despite the chilly temperatures, which hovered around the freezing mark. The majority of winter athletes preferred ice skating.

"It's a perfect thing to bring 12-year-olds ice skating, and I heard it was really nice since (the rink) was renovated," said Lori Allen, of Weston. She was joined on the ice by out-of-state relatives Nancy Gray and her daughter, Taylor Gray, 12, of Wayne, Pa., and Taylor's friend, Barbara Boylan, 12, of Philadelphia.

The skaters showed a range of skill. Some novices used skating aids, the equivalent of training wheels on bicycles, to keep themselves upright. Others zipped around like would-be Olympians.

Peter DiDomenico, 9, of Fairfield said he loves ice skating because "I get to slide on the ice and run myself into the wall."

Katie Boes, of Westport, and her daughter, Katherine Calacci, 6, were visiting the rink for the first time. Boes said her family has lived in Westport for years, but that her children are just getting old enough to appreciate the winter activity.

Not everyone was there for the sheer enjoyment of the ice.

Sisters Charlotte and Emma Axthelm, 16 and 18, respectively, were there to conduct the Staples High School girls ice hockey team's twice-weekly fundraising effort, "Chuck-a-Puck." People buy the right to throw a puck at a particular spot that's marked on the ice at 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The person whose puck lands closest to the target gets a prize and the hockey players get money that goes toward the purchase of ice time for practice at the rink.

"It's very expensive to rent ice time. The school helps us out quite a bit, but we still need to raise more," said David Rollison, the team's assistant coach.

For more information about the Westport Police Athletic League ice rink, visit www.wpalrink.com.