During the cold winter months when everyone’s cooped inside, it’s easy to start feeling down and disconnected from the community. Luckily, the City of La Porte has the community covered with its annual Winterfest--the perfect way to get people moving and out of the house.
This year’s Winterfest kicked off on Friday, January 27, and will run until Sunday, January 29. The schedule of events was packed with all kinds of things to help families feel less down and get more into the winter spirit. There was a little something for everyone to enjoy--everything from fascinating ice sculpting demonstrations to a chilly snowball softball tournament.
One event that was a particular favorite, especially amongst little kids, was kids' gymnastics at the Civic Auditorium. Plans for a kids’ gymnastics program have been in the works for a long time, and the parks department just got approved for a grant through the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. Most of the equipment for the new program arrived just in time for Winterfest, and the city thought there could be no better time to introduce the new program to the community.
“We just thought it would be a great idea to incorporate gymnastics into Winterfest so people could come to check it out and get to know me and see the space where the classes will be held. It was like a little intro into the program, and it was just really nice to do it this way because I was able to answer tons of questions and get to meet some of the kids,” said Christie Trksak Gibertini, gymnastics instructor.
At the event, little kids of all ages stretched, jumped, and ran around to their hearts’ content, burning off all their restless winter energy. It was wonderful to see them get moving and hear all of their little laughs.
“It’s just so nice that they’ve planned all these fun activities for us to do this winter. I know a lot of us start to feel cooped up around this time of year, and I’m all about getting out and staying active, so it’s nice that something like this is a part of Winterfest too. It shows people that there are still ways to get out and keep moving during the winter which is great,” said Trksak Gibertini.
As if the gymnastics weren’t enough to shake off the winter blues, this year’s Winterfest also featured a frozen bike ride, put on by Maple City Bicycling Club. Participants put on their heaviest layers and went out for a crisp, sunny bike ride on some of La Porte’s most beautiful trails. After the bike ride ended, the riders came back with rosy cheeks, cold noses, and huge smiles, ready to sip on some hot chocolate. Everyone had a wonderful time.
“Getting out to see other people and go for a bike ride was great. It’s been so gray and gloomy lately so it’s awesome that this weekend has been sunny and that people are coming out. It’s just been awesome. I had such a great time riding around with everybody,” said Joe Collins, a participant.
The idea for a frozen bike ride originally started when Maple City Bicycling Club member David Heinold, who works for the city, was asked if a bike ride would be a neat addition. Heinold brought the idea up to David Wolfe, president of Maple City Bicycling Club, and Wolfe was enthusiastically on board.
“It really gives the city a chance to help people break their cabin fever. This all started because the city was hoping to get people outside where they can interact with other people. It’s one thing to go outside, but it’s another thing to be able to socialize during a time when things are cold and rough. So, I think Winterfest is just fantastic. It gives people that opportunity to socialize with other people and get a breath of fresh air,” said Wolfe.
All in all, this year’s Winterfest has been another memorable one for the books. Everyone involved, both participants and people in charge, was grateful to take part in such a positive tradition that not only encourages personal well-being but togetherness as well.
“I think La Porte has done a pretty good job at trying to get activities going and getting people out and about. I see people kayaking on the lakes all the time and there are always people out on the trails walking their dogs. I just think it’s awesome that the city has been cleaning things up. It’s going in a good direction and it’s pretty exciting to see what’s going on,” said Collins.
If you missed out on today’s activities don’t worry! Tomorrow is packed with all kinds of fun things to get you out of the house. There will be a free pancake breakfast at La Porte Armory from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. All donations will go towards La Porte County 4-H.
There will also be free horse wagon rides at Cummings Lodge from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. as well as free ice skating from 1 to 8 p.m. when you enter the code WINTERFEST during checkout. Skate rentals will be available for $3. Last but now least, kids can challenge their creative side at the create-your-own snow art event from 2 to 4 p.m. at Luhr Park Nature Center.
“There’s just all kinds of things to do. People can either come out to breakfast and then go to church or go to church and go get breakfast. There are lots of activities going on. People can go enjoy the carvings up there--heck, people can even drive up and down Lincolnway a couple of times just to see what’s going on in the downtown area because it’s just continuously changing,” said Wolfe.