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Hundreds brave the elements to take part in Polar Palooza

The wintry weather did not deter hundreds from braving the elements to take part in the DeKalb Park District’s annual Polar Palooza.

Sunday’s event at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Road, provided an opportunity for people to try their hand at everything from arts and crafts and ice skating to sledding and street hockey.

Greg Bruggeman, superintendent of parks and recreation for the park district, said it’s always a good event for people to come out for.

“I think people are just looking for things to do,” he said. “In winter, there’s not a good option.”

Bruggeman said Polar Palooza seeks to fill a unique void when there is a lull in community events.

DeKalb resident Joe O’Brien stood roasting s’mores over an open firepit during the event. He said he couldn’t pass on the opportunity to come out for Polar Palooza.

“We missed last year, but we usually make it,” he said.

O’Brien said there’s a lot to like about Polar Palooza and what it aims to offer the community.

“The kid loves it,” he said. “Every year, she gets a little better at ice skating. She loves coming out here once a year and doing it.”

O’Brien said the weather did not deter him from coming out to have fun.

“In fact, we’re happy that it started snowing,” he said. “Otherwise there wouldn’t have been enough snow.”

Elsewhere at the event, Analia Piantanida of Uruguay sat at the side of the ice rink snapping pictures of her friends ice skating.

“One of them has never tried, I think,” she said. “The other one is a sporty person, so I think she’s managing better.”

Piantanida said she is still getting adjusted to winters in DeKalb.

“It’s our first time here,” she said. “It’s really cold. It’s freezing cold in here. We’re from South America, so the weather is totally different, but we are enjoying our afternoon here. There’s no snow at all in Uruguay, so we don’t usually do these kind of activities. We’re having a good time in the snow. Fortunately, the jackets are cozy, so we are managing.”

About 400 people attended last year’s event, organizers said.

“This year, it may be a little bit less,” said Jeff Myles, athletic coordinator for the park district. “I think probably that’s due to the weather.”

Myles said it is always the park district’s goal to do its best to serve the public.

“For the people who come out, we still want to give them a good time, show them everything we have to offer, make things reasonable as far as price … and invite them out to have fun with us,” he said.


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