Northern exposure

Polarpalooza offered family-friendly winter activities in DeKalb

DeKALB – Originally from the East Coast, Tony Sorrentino said that after living in Florida for years, he has missed the snow.

On Sunday, Sorrentino and his family, wife Kara, 3-year-old son Anthony and 11-month-old daughter Marea, attended the DeKalb Park District’s sixth annual Polarpalooza at Hopkins Park in DeKalb.

“Although I grew up with snow, both of my children were born in Florida,” Sorrentino said. “Snow is still a bit of a novelty to them. I heard about Polarpalooza and it sounded like lots of fun. We try to expose the kids to as many new opportunities as possible, and it’s always great spending time together as a family.”

This year’s Polarpalooza featured free s’mores and hot chocolate, winter crafts, a scavenger hunt, a nature trail hike, hay rides and broomball. Attendees also could rent ice skates and enjoy demonstrations by the Northern Illinois University hockey team and the Waltham Curling Club.

Rachel Schmit, DeKalb Park District recreation supervisor and planner of the event, said the goal of Polarpalooza was to “get families out of the house and outside in the middle of winter.”

“It’s important to get fresh air and exercise year-round, and Polarpalooza is an affordable, fun event to do with family and friends,” Schmit said. “There are indoor and outdoor activities and it’s open to everyone. All ages can enjoy the event, from babies to 112.”

Kim Smiley of DeKalb and her granddaughter, Lola Boksa, 10, of Sycamore, attend Polarpalooza every year. This year, the two went ice skating together.

“February can be dreary and it’s not as fun spending all that time indoors, especially when it’s been cold and cloudy like it has been lately,” Smiley said. “It’s why we come to Polarpalooza. There are a million fun activities for kids to do. It’s a great event and a special tradition we do together.”

Jaclyn Myers of DeKalb brought her children to Polarpalooza for the first time, where they went sledding, drank hot chocolate and created arts and crafts.

“We decided to come because I thought it was something fun for us all to do,” Myers said. “Winter activities bring us together. I hope that when they get older, they’ll do things like sled, make snowmen and play in the snow with their own families. I’d love for it all to become traditions they pass down.”

Schmit said Polarpalooza takes months to plan and is achievable through the event’s many sponsors, including the Lemont and Belvidere park districts, and volunteers, including Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority and Sigma Lambda Sigma sorority.

“Polarpalooza wouldn’t be possible without everyone coming together,” Schmit said. “The event has become a family-friendly winter tradition not only for DeKalb, but for the entire community.”

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