By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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“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.
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
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
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.
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.
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