SOURCE: Chukka Caribbean Adventures

June 12, 2006 13:51 ET

Jamaica Dogsled Team Musher to Minnesota: "Why Is the Air Conditioning Up So High?"

OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 12, 2006 -- Oswald "Newton" Marshall thought someone put the air conditioning on too high when he arrived in Minnesota on March 25, 2006, for training as a musher on the Jamaica Dogsled Team with Rick Johnson. He quickly found out it wasn't air conditioning at all -- he was outdoors and feeling a Minnesota breeze (temps ranged from the 30s to 40s and were warm by local standards), far away from his warm Caribbean home in Richmond, Jamaica for the first time.

The 23-year-old Newton is part of entrepreneur Danny Melville's venture to bring the spirit and can-do attitude of Jamaicans to the world: the Jamaica Dogsled Team. His journey to snowy Minnesota began in Jamaica's lush White River Valley where he worked with tourists participating in the Chukka Caribbean Adventures' horseback riding tour. As Newton tells the story he was asked to look after a trio of new dogs at Chukka Cove Farm, renowned for its polo and now home to the Team. It was there he first met the future sled dogs Bruno, Marbles and Jimmy (named after sponsor Jimmy Buffett) and his soon-to-be instructors Rick and Annette Johnson, owners of Ah-Regah Kennel & Equipment in Mahtowa, Minnesota.

"Rick started talking to me about dog sledding; I didn't know what it was all about at the time. I watched them walk and talk to the dogs and wondered what they were doing. Rick hitched the dogs to a three-wheel cycle and asked me to run ahead and call to them in a special way -- I was surprised when they responded," says Newton. Youthful exuberance and a way with animals propelled this young Jamaican on a journey to the snow and great outdoors to train with huskies in Minnesota. "I didn't know what to expect. I was looking forward to working with experienced dogs and to seeing a lot of snow. I knew it would be cold but thought it would be like a rainy day in Jamaica. On the first day they pulled me on a snowmobile -- my first time in the snow -- it was freezing and very shocking and I thought I was going to fly; so amazing to see dogs move that fast."

When he wasn't busy training, Newton was able to be a tourist for a change. "It was interesting to watch Newton's responses to things he had never seen," says Johnson. "He was amazed by the Great Lakes Aquarium and took great delight in watching the otters play. On his last day here we took him to the Minnesota Zoo and he was like 'Alice in Wonderland' and all of the stores and rides at the Mall of America really sent him into orbit. Newton and Annette went on one of the roller coasters there; he was pretty nonchalant until it started to accelerate and then his eyes became the size of dinner plates. We also visited the Gooseberry Falls State Park as well as the Corps of Engineers Lake Superior Marine Museum and then saw the Duluth's famous Aerial Bridge in action."

This young man from Jamaica with a unique tie to the "Star of the North" is looking forward to visiting again, and hopes to show off his mushing abilities with fellow Jamaican Devon Anderson at the 2007 St. Paul Winter Carnival. Newton and Anderson, along with the Jamaican sled dogs, are featured in Palm Pictures' soon to be released documentary feature "Sun Dogs," and their training continues at Chukka Cove Farm, Ocho Rios in preparation for the unique Jamaica Dogsled Team Tour to be offered by Chukka Caribbean Adventures later this summer.

For more information about the Jamaica Dogsled Team visit www.jamaicadogsled.com, email: jhibbert@chukkacaribbean.com or call Janene Hibbert at 876-972-2506. Click on the "Cool Stuff" link and support the team. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA). The JSPCA works closely with Chukka and the team to monitor their dogs. To learn more about Chukka Caribbean Adventures visit www.chukkacaribbean.com or email: hwright@chukkacaribbean.com.

Founded in 1983, Chukka Caribbean Adventures is now the number one land-based nature adventure tour provider in the region, offering twenty-eight tours in Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands. Collectively, the operations delivered over 200,000 adventure tours to cruise and hotel guests in 2005. With a commitment to deliver the highest quality tours with well trained guides and exceptional safety standards, Chukka takes pride in showcasing the natural beauty of the Caribbean through unique and sensational experiences and providing opportunities for local residents and businesses. Awards include "Shore Excursion of the Year 2004/2005" for Montego Bay and Ocho Rios by Princess Cruises and the JHTA "Best Attraction Award 2003/2004."

Chukka Caribbean Adventures -- Where Sensational Nature Awaits You!

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