The annual WinterFest, organized by the La Porte Park and Recreation Department, returns in late January, with many of the events enjoyed over the past years as well a couple new twists to bring a blast of winter fun to town.

The La Porte County Parks along with the La Porte City Parks will be offering a WinterFest Photo Scavenger Hunt the weeks of January 18-30. Scavenger Hunt clues available here!  Don't forget to post your three photos on the either the La Porte County Park and Recreation Department's or  the La Porte City Park and Recreation Department's Facebook page beginning January 30th!  Clues

The events kick off with Ice Sculpture Demonstrations, presented by Downtown La Porte and local businesses and organizations. The sculptures will line our city’s sidewalks beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22. The carvings offer shoppers an opportunity to peruse the offerings of downtown shops while admiring the creative designs.

Opening night continues with a special Zumba event from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, at the Civic Auditorium. The free fun-filled physical activities will be highlighted by a Zumba fundraiser for cervical cancer, with walking offered as a low-impact exercise option. Participants are asked to wear workout clothes, including clean gym shoes. Presented with IU Health La Porte Hospital and La Porte County Family YMCA.

For creative adults and children alike, Family Ceramics runs from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Jan. 23, on the lower level of the Civic Auditorium. Participants can paint seasonal gifts such as snowmen, Valentine’s Day boxes and figurines or think ahead with spring items such as Easter eggs. The cost is $5 which includes paints and brushes but not the bisque item for decorating. All children must have a parent or guardian present. Pre-registration is required by Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Park Office (250 Pine Lake Avenue) or by phone at (219) 326-9600. Flyer
Design and build a person-powered, corrugated cardboard sled capable of withstanding the decent down the Kesling Park Sledding Hill for the WinterFest Cardboard Sled Race from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23! This is a great event for friends, families and local business who want to have fun creating the fastest, most spectacular cardboard sled around. This is a free event for all to enjoy but make sure you register early! Flyer Rules and Registration Form

Yummy for your tummy! Family Cupcake Decorating Class will be held at Lil Q's Coffee Shop and Bakery, 810 Lincolnway, on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 5-7 p.m. Pre-registration is required by contacting Jamie at 574-386-8839. The class fee is $20 per family and includes six cupcakes to decorate (additional available for $1 each - just ask when you register). Unlimited coffee for grownups and a cocoa or milk for each child is included.

Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides are offered for free from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, in Soldiers Memorial Park. After a trot through the park, hot chocolate will be available by the fireplace at Cummings Lodge. For ages 5-12, a Children's Coloring Contest will be available inside Cummings Lodge while sipping on your hot chocolate. Winners will be announced  on Jan. 29 and featured in the Park and Recreation Department's 2015 Annual Report.

The “Snowball Softball” Adult Coed Tournament returns to Lions Field at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, and will be held come snow or more snow. The double-elimination tournament is limited to the first eight teams to register. NSA coed rules apply. Team awards for first, second and third place and individual awards for first place. The cost is $165 per team. The registration deadline will be Thursday, Jan. 14, at 4 p.m. Turn in rosters & wavier forms to the Park Office (250 Pine Lake Avenue). Flyer  Rules & Regulations Roster Page 1 Roster Page 2/Waiver Tournament Bracket
Breakfast with the Birds, sponsored by the La Porte County Parks, will be held from 9:30-11 a.m on Saturday, Jan. 30, at Luhr County Park Nature Center (3178 S. 150 West, La Porte). Come and learn about our feathered friends and enjoy breakfast treats while watching our birds grab a bite at the bird-feeding station. No pre-registration required. This program is open to all ages but children must be accompanied by an adult.
WANTED: Chili Masters! Do you think your chili is worthy? Bring your favorite chili (minimum 3 gallons), a crockpot and ladle to our first WinterFest Chili Cook- Off from 12:00 -3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30, on the lower level of the Civic Auditorium (1001 Ridge Street). Not a chili maker? Be a chili taster and join the fun!  Chefs must pre-register by submitting the cook-off application along with $25 entry fee to the Park and Recreation Department (250 Pine Lake Avenue) by Monday, Jan. 25. The public is invited beginning at 12:30 p.m. to taste the chili by paying a $5 entry (adult); children under 10 are free.  Flyer Registration Form Rules
NEW: WinterFest Dodgeball Tournament! A fun event based on good sportsmanship that builds friendships and promotes fair and spirited play. Teams who win the best of three matches move on in the tournament. This fun filled event will be held on Saturday, Jan. 30, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Civic Auditorium's gymnasium.  Deadline for team entry (including roster/waiver and the $40 fee) is Friday, Jan. 22, at 4 p.m. at the Park and Recreation Department (250 Pine Lake Avenue). Teams are limited to eight players (6 players and 2 sideline officials). Each team must have at least one male and one female.  Flyer Rules Roster Page 1 Roster Page 2

For more information on WinterFest, follow the La Porte Park and Recreation Department Facebook page or call (219) 326-9600.