Winter officially arrives tonight, but if you go outside it seems a lot like spring. Though we don't have any snow for skiing or any ice that is safe for skating (seriously, don't try please), there are still plenty of reasons to get out and about in Madison Parks over the holidays. For starters make sure to drop by Olbrich and check out the Holiday Express train show through December 31st. I would also encourage you to take a walk through the outdoor gardens as well, or if that is not warm enough for you, drop into the conservatory to get a feel of the tropics. Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park is running through January 3rd and is a favorite spot for those that enjoy holiday light displays. With the very mild fall and the seemingly warm start to winter, it is a great opportunity to participate in one of the many offerings in the Bird and Nature Walk Program. These walks are guided by volunteers who have a passion for connecting people to nature and we are very fortunate to have them in our community.
As the winter recreation season comes, even if a little late, I hope you get a chance to get out and about sledding, snowshoeing, skiing or ice skating (maybe even go skating with the Wisconsin Women's Hockey Team) at a Madison Park this winter. Also, don't forget that you can get updates on winter information about Parks (and many other City agencies) by signing up My City of Madison Alerts. Signing up will keep you updated on all the news about skiing and ice rink conditions.
If you are still looking for gift ideas that are unique and enduring, consider contacting the Madison Parks Foundation. Madison Parks and the Parks Foundation partner to provide celebration trees, benches, and picnic tables that are placed across the parks system. One of my gifts for this year will be a picket in Vilas Park in honor of a great friend as a part of the Pickets for Parks Program. This program supports the Parks Foundation, and the John Olin Trust will match the amount of each picket sold in 2015.
May you each have a healthy, happy and active 2016!
Eric M. Knepp
Madison Parks Superintendent