The Cold Can’t Hold Us Back
Altoona’s Frosty Fun Series draws community outside
Altoona’s Frosty Fun series of winter events is underway, inviting locals to don their warmest coats and make the most of the opportunities winter offers. In partnership with the City of Eau Claire and 8 80 Cities WinterMission – an initiative to encourage active, healthy communities by fighting the negative attitudes toward winter – the City of Altoona has hosted three community events in the frosty air already, with plans in the works for several more.
“In the winter, sometimes it isn’t conducive to plan things a long time in advance,” Atkinson said. “You don’t know what you’re gonna get.” – Roy Atkinson, City of Altoona, on the importance of pop-up events in the winter
“It’s so important that we offer residents of the Chippewa Valley from Altoona and Eau Claire the opportunity to do outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Roy Atkinson, management analyst for the City of Altoona. These events help bring people together during a season that often leaves them isolated in their homes, encouraging healthy communities and healthy bodies.
The next event in the series will be Altoona’s Learn to Curl day at the Eau Claire Curling Club on March 21 at 1pm. People of all ages are invited to come out and take a stab at sliding stones.
So far, the series has featured a candlelight snowshoe hike at Centennial Park and the Altoona Lion’s Club Ice Fishing Classic. The inaugural Frosty Toona Fat Tire Bike Race took place on Feb. 1 at River Prairie Park, drawing nearly two dozen racers and spectators totaling about 60 attendees.
Organizers tried to embrace the challenges that come with unpredictable negative temperatures by including a “true to nature pop-up.”
“In the winter, sometimes it isn’t conducive to plan things a long time in advance,” Atkinson said. “You don’t know what you’re gonna get.”
This manifested as a short-notice glow-in-the-dark sledding event on Jelly Bean Hill out by Altoona Family Restaurant. The air temperature was 10 degrees with wind chill down to -8, but more than 70 people attended with less than a week’s notice.
“We were really worried about the weather, but people came out,” Atkinson said. “It changed my perspective. If people want to do it, they’re going to go do it.”
In addition to the Frosty Fun series, Altoona is embracing the WinterMission project by helping connect people with resources that will allow them to enjoy the chilly months to their fullest. At the Altoona Public Library, people can borrow not only books, but kubb sets, snowshoes, and ice fishing gear. Increasing awareness of the places where people can borrow or share winter gear can help reduce the financial barriers to outdoor recreation, creating a more equitable community.
Atkinson is still considering events to add to the Frosty Fun series this year and next. There may yet be another pop-up before the snow melts. “There’s still plenty of winter left,” he said.