Ahhhhh, winter. We have a love-hate relationship, do we not? You are beautiful in your stillness, your simpleness, and your reminder that the cycle always begins again. But you can be dreary, hard to bear, and an absolute test of our mental fortitude. Dear winter, if only there were recreation activities in Olympia that would help us appreciate your blessed season…

Olympia’s Parks, Arts & Recreation Department Celebrates the Season

There’s still time to get down to the rink and skate your heart out! The rink is open until January 17. Photo courtesy: City of Olympia

We can think of winter as a seasonal sigh. A time for rest, a time for magic, a time for simple nods of gratitude. We can appreciate how interesting the trees look when they’re bare and give up the locations of our favorite birds’ nests. Or how the crocuses bravely raise their heads through nearly-frozen ground. Or when the camelia bursts wide open, sometimes even with snow atop, heralding the promise of spring.

While these things are truly lovely, and downright magical at times, it’s not enough to get us through winter alone. That is why when we need someone to lean on, when we think we can’t possibly look up at yet another gray sky, we have the Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation (OPARD) department to pull us through.

Oly on Ice

This winter has been coming in like a lion. It’s made transportation a pipe-dream and so many things a struggle. If you had hoped to get down to Oly on Ice, South Sound’s favorite pop-up ice rink right here in Downtown Olympia, to find a little hygge or to practice your wintery twirls, but plans were foiled by the weather, you still have a few chances left – the rink is open until January 17. You can reserve your tickets online at olyonice.com.

Try something new this winter downtown at Oly on Ice. Photo courtesy: City of Olympia

So far, 17,300 skaters have cut through the ice so far this year, with their skates laced tight and their smiles plastered to their faces. Oly on ice has quickly become a tradition for many families, being a fantastic place for healthful, whole family fun where we can get our bodies moving and our hearts warmed.

OPARD does their best to make sure Oly on Ice is accessible for all families in our community, with affordable admission pricing, including skates; two Cheap Skate dates each week, Mondays and Tuesdays; and Sensory Friendly Skate times on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. They also distributed 720 free passes (up from 550 in 2019) to dozens of local partner organizations to be distributed to low-income and marginalized community members and hosted two field trips specifically for local youth in the foster care system.

This was all made possible in part by the support of generous sponsors, who continuously show up for our community because they recognize the benefits when we all come together for a common goal: to have fun. OPARD thanks Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry, Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, Views on 5th, WSECU, Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates, Heritage Bank, Puget Sound Energy, South Puget Sound Community College, Timberland Bank, Twinstar Credit Union, Port of Olympia, Browsers Bookshop, Commencement Bank, Olympia Emergency Services, Capital Mall, Olympia Pediatrics, Olympic Rental & Landlord Services, SCJ Alliance, Sound Credit Union, Washington Orthopaedic Center, Thurston Talk, Oly Arts, Showcase Magazine, MIXX 96, iFiberone/KMAS, KAYO/KGY Radio, KMNT/KELA, 94.5 Roxy, Haggen, Propel Construction, Graphic Communications, Ironseele and dozens of program partners for helping to bring the rink back to town for its third season.

Winter Outdoor Recreation

Olympia parks and rec oly on ice -snow-shoe
Learn the basics of snowshoeing with an experienced guide through the Olympia Parks, Arts, & Recreation winter programming. Photo courtesy: City of Olympia

And it’s not just the ice rink that OPARD has to offer. They have an array of outdoor, indoor and virtual offerings to help us celebrate the season.

There’s a Snow Shoe Trip to Snoqualmie National Forest where you can learn the basics with experienced guides. Trail Time for Tots is for those looking to help their little ones, ages 2 to 5, get their wiggles out and learn about nature, while hopefully making some new friends with folks who are in the same season of life. Outdoor Adventures is a chance for kids ages 8 to 12 to romp around Priest Point Park together doing what they do best: being kids.

Fitness and Wellbeing

As for indoors, there are virtual offerings and in-person ones held at the Olympia Center, masks are required, and here are a few highlights from their current catalog:

Other Opportunities to Experience It!

Olympia parks and rec -Trail-Time-for-Tots
Join Trail Time for Tots through the Olympia Parks, Arts, & Recreation Department to connect with other families in your same season of life. Photo courtesy: City of Olympia

Looking for something else to get you through the winter? Try Performing Arts & Dance classes, Visual Arts & Crafts, Science, Nature, History courses, and Technology workshops. For kids, they have a full slate of Spring Break Camps.

Plus, Summer Day Camp registration is the first Monday in March, so this year that’s March 7, 2022. Keep an eye on the City of Olympia’s Recreation website the week prior for a sneak preview!

See something that you like? Sign up is easy and can be done online by making an account on the City of Olympia’s Recreation website or by calling 360.753.8380.

Turn Winter Doldrums into Delight

The thing about winter is that it is an invitation. Winter offers up a peacefulness and invites us to emulate it. Maybe we can do it—maybe we can’t. Either way, we can all take a moment to celebrate the unique opportunity it provides to remember our perseverance. And when our resolve is running low, there’s always our friends at Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation.

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