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January 2014 Column - Enjoying winter activities safely in Erie County Parks


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oneilj - Posted on 06 January 2014

While the Erie County parks are busy throughout the year, they really seem to come alive during the winter months, especially Chestnut Ridge Park. Boasting one of the best sledding hills in the area, families can enjoy hours of fun at no cost. The hill also highlights one of only a few toboggan chutes in the country.

 

However, with the rise and fall of temperatures lately, it is hard to know if heading out to the park's sledding hill is worth it. To keep residents up-to-date on the conditions of the sledding hills, toboggan runs, Emery's ski hill, cross country ski trails and ice skating rinks, the county's parks department has a webpage announcing what is currently opened and closed due to conditions.

 

The list is easy to locate. Visit www.erie.gov/parks and click on the snowflake icon for Winter Sports/Activities Availability. Many of the hills and trails have opened and closed several times since this year's first snowfall, but the page is updated regularly making planning easier for families and residents. 

 

Hopefully we'll see more snow in time for this year's Winterfest, which will be held at Chestnut Ridge Park on Sunday, Jan. 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s event features a Glenn Colton concert from 11a.m. to noon, as well as Western New York Mountain Bike Association mountain bike races and a snow sculpturing competition is also scheduled from 11a.m. to 2 p.m., with judging at 2pm.

 

I have had the pleasure of judging the snow sculpture contest in the past and there have been some very impressive, creative entries. Everyone is invited to enter. 

 

Many families braved the snowy weather and enjoyed a great day at Chestnut Ridge for Santaland held last month. It was great to see so many kids and adults enjoying the park, sledding hill, restored toboggan runs and casino. 

 

Events like Santaland and Winterfest are always well attended and looked forward to by families. The parks employees do a great job making sure the park is ready for these events. A special thanks to all the sponsors and the Town of Orchard Park Recreation Department for partnering with the county to make these events possible.

 

I want to wish everyone a safe winter sporting season, whether you enjoy sledding, skiing or snowmobiling, make sure you are enjoying these actives at the proper locations to reduce the risk of injury. 

 

If you have any questions about the county’s parks, please contact my office at 858-8850 or email john.mills@erie.gov