The beginning of winter is filled with moments to look forward to — the first snowfall, holiday parties, movies, music and the turning of the New Year. But after the ball drops, the two to three months left of winter can drag on for an eternity. As the snow piles up, the Fox Cities have many places to put it to good use with winter family fun for all ages — sledding.
No matter where you live within the Fox Cities, a sledding hill is never far away. Banish cabin fever and experience these local facilities.
According to Kabel Helmbrecht, recreation programmer for the city of Appleton, the Appleton parks draw about 3,500 sledders and tubers each year. Three of these parks have supervised hours where families can come and enjoy the snow. Reid Golf Course, Erb Park and Memorial Park all have sledding hills with no fees where any type of sled can be used.
The only restrictions are put in place in the name of safety. “We do have staff that will not allow man-made jumps or ramps to prevent injury,” says Helmbrecht.
The hills are supervised from Dec. 23 to Feb. 15, Monday through Friday 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The times are extended during the school system’s winter break.
Reid Golf Course has a concession stand, while Erb Park and Memorial Park both have warming locations with restrooms and first aid.
Both Erb Park and Jones Park also have ice rinks with warming stations. On Jan. 18 from noon to 1:30 p.m. the Lawrence University hockey team will be holding a skills, drills and games day for ages 5 to 16 years at Jones Park. The event is free and open to the public.
Winter Park in Kewaunee is one of the more structured experiences in the area. The park features a hill with an 80-foot decline with six tubing lanes that are maintained by park officials. Tubes are provided by the park, which easily attach to an employee-operated tow rope. Tubers must be four feet tall to ride by themselves.
Last season, more than 10,000 people took part in snowy activities at Winter Park. “With that volume of people, we want to make sure people are safe. We really are a family facility,” says Matt Payette, Kewaunee County parks director.
Winter Park has been making snow since the first week in December, so the lanes are always ready for winter fun. If you want to take a break from the cold, Winter Park also has a warming chalet where they sell hot beverages and snacks.
Winter Park is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is also available for private parties for groups of 50 or more.
Neenah has several parks with sledding hills to enjoy, but according to Kim Vanderwyst, office manager of the Neenah parks and recreation department, Washington and Memorial Parks are by far the most popular. Last season more than 1,000 visitors used each hill during supervised times.
Tubers at these Neenah locations are free to bring their own tubes and sleds. They also will get some exercise as there is no tow rope to the top.
Both hills have supervised hours on weeknights and weekends all winter long. Washington park is supervised Monday through Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Memorial Park is supervised on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Warming shelters that sell hot chocolate are available at both parks during these times.
If ice skating is more your speed, both parks feature man-made ice rinks all season long.
Calumet County Park, located on the shore of Lake Winnebago, has two hills available to visitors. The main hill requires the use of tubes rented from the county and has a tow rope to bring tubers to the top of the hill. Approximately 250 tubes are available for visitor use. Admission for this hill, which includes tube rental, is $6 per person per day.
The second hill is available for all types of tubes, sleds and snowboards, but doesn’t have a tow rope. Both hills are open from Christmas through the end of January on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The park also has a heated lodge where they sell concessions and rent snowshoes.
The Parks Department regularly updates their Facebook and website with announcements or hill closings.
No matter where you go sledding this winter, remember to stay safe and bundle up!
— By Jennifer Clausing