Snowcial Winteraction

new winter event series starts on EC’s East Hill

Trevor Kupfer, photos by Andrea Paulseth

LIKE A FROZEN RIVER OF DREAMS. Boyd Park’s new ice loop will be the site for a weekly, nighttime winter event.

As we’ve said in recent issues, the Chippewa Valley’s got a lot going for it in winter. All the raw material is there: fantastic ice rinks in parks, internationally renowned snow sculptors, a Swedish lawn game booming in popularity, phenomenal snowshoeing trails, and so much more. So maybe it was just a matter of connecting the dots, something Volume One and several local partners are hoping to do with a new weekly winter event.

Winter After Hours is a social get-together that offers ice skating, kubb, snowshoeing, snow sculpting, hot beverages, a fire pit, and wintry music under the pristine and festively lit Boyd Park.

Eau Claire’s Parks and Rec already decided to do something different with the Boyd Rink this year, turning the typical frozen circle into a meandering ice path with a snow island in the middle. This inspired V1 to get the (snow)ball rolling, and to partner with the department for the purpose of encouraging people to get outside and enjoy winter.

“We’re excited because by changing the rink in Boyd Park we wanted to drum up some interest in skating. It’s an activity that has been in decline over the past 20 years,” said Phil Fieber, director of the city’s parks, recreation, and forestry department.

At their peaks, the cities of Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and Menomonie prepared nearly 30 outdoor ice skating rinks for their residents. Last year that number was down to a mere dozen (nine of them in Eau Claire), and this year a mere nine (four in Eau Claire).

“So what Volume One is adding to the park is awesome,” Fieber continued. “It’s great, and we’re excited. … It gives people a place to get outside and enjoy winter, because it’s not going away.”

With city budgets continuing to experience strain, Winter After Hours is the perfect time to get outside and prove to the city that its residents still care about the winter community. With only four rinks left in town, who knows how many will be around in five years?