Sully Cadengo, center, and others ride Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at Snow Park at Alpine Hills in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The Rockford Park District has kicked off its annual Winter Flurry, a seasonal mix of indoor and outdoor activities and events to keep you busy during the coldest months.

“The Winter Flurry initiative started in 2020 to help the community recreate safely outdoors during some of the darkest days amid a global pandemic,” said Jessica Steinberg, operations director for the Park District. “We know though that youth, teens, and families need an escape from the day-to-day stresses now more than ever.

“Our recreation experts came up with some new and expanded offerings for indoor and outdoor recreation over the winter months to help improve physical and mental wellness. It’s also extremely important that we do whatever we can to keep youth and teens active and engaged.”

Related: Sandine touts Rockford Park District’s value, unveils video for latest project in Parks Chamber speech

Here’s a look at some of the key winter activities and dates to keep on your calendar.

All Aglow

The All Aglow lights display is in Sinnissippi Park outside Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens through Jan. 9, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. Second St., is illuminated by hundreds of holidays lights during the annual All Aglow.

The display runs from Nov. 26 to Jan. 8. Lights are on from dusk to dawn, but the park closes at 10 p.m.

Festival of Lights

The annual Festival of Lights kicks off in Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. Second St., the day after Thanksgiving.

You can see more than 100 displays illuminated by roughly 400,000 lights.

The event runs Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 26 through Dec. 18 and daily Dec. 19 through Dec. 26 and on Dec. 31.

Related: What does it take to setup the Festival of Lights? Here’s a look at the small but mighty effort

Making Parks Bright

Holiday lights were flipped on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, at Wantz Park in Loves Park. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

Six parks get brighter during the holiday season as part of the annual Making Parks Bright tradition, which runs Dec. 1 through Jan. 9.

The displays are on from dusk to dawn through Jan. 9 at these five parks:

  • Alpine Park, 950 S. Alpine Road, Rockford
  • Brown Park, 2010 N. Main St., Rockford
  • Fairgrounds Park, Kilburn Avenue and Jefferson Street, Rockford
  • Sand Park, 1041 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park
  • Wantz Memorial Park, 602 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park
  • Washington Park Community Center, 3617 Delaware St., Rockford

Holiday Wagon Rides

Holiday wagon rides are available Wednesdays and Fridays through Dec. 23, 2022, at Lockwood Park, 5201 Safford Road in Rockford. The district announces its winter flurry Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at Lockwood. (Photo provided by Rockford Park District)

Take a 20-minute holiday wagon ride through the trails of Lockwood Park, 5201 Safford Road, on Wednesdays and Fridays through Dec. 23.

Time slots run between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., and advance tickets are required.

Get your tickets or learn more about Winter on the Farm here.

More things to do: From Santa’s arrival to holiday parades, here are 15 things to do this weekend in Rockford

Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition

The Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition takes place Jan. 18-21 at Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. Second St., Rockford.

Teams from around the state will compete for the right to represent Illinois in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition.

Last year, Cave People from Space won the competition for its creation “Antreader.”

Photos: See all the 2022 Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition creations in Sinnissippi Park

Sinnissippi Station Exhibit

Seven G-scale trains and trolleys will run down, around and above you at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens from Dec. 2 to Jan. 29.

You can get tickets and learn more here.

More news: Mosaic towers create colorful new ‘landmarks’ in Rockford’s Coronado-Haskell neighborhood

So you wanna build a GLOWman

Collins Aerospace has donated funds for the district to purchase supplies needed to give out 2,000 free GLOWman kits.

Everything you need — aside from the snow itself — is included in the kit. Every kit contains black buttons, an orange glow stick, red pom poms, and a plaid scarf. The district wants you to post a picture of the completed GLOWman on social media using the hashtag: #rpdfun.

Kits can be picked up starting Monday, Nov. 28 at select Rockford Park District facilities and all customer experience locations.

Related: Riverview Ice House in downtown Rockford marks key milestone in construction

More winter recreation

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the other Winter Flurry activities happening this year.

  • Cross-country skiing and winter hiking at Aldeen Golf Club, Atwood Park and Sinnissippi Golf Course
  • Sledding at Twin Sister Hills Park and Sinnissippi Golf Course
  • Snow tubing, snowboarding, and skiing at Snow Park at Alpine Hills
  • Snowmobiling at Anna Page Park and Lockwood Park
  • Ice skating and hockey at Carlson Ice Arena, Riverview Ice House, and Eclipse Lagoon in Sinnissippi Gardens
  • Birds of Prey at Atwood Center
  • Bird Walks at Aldeen Golf Club

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas.

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