Despite unseasonably warm weather, WinterWest planning continues!

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Despite the unusually warm temperatures of the past month, organizers of the annual WinterWest event are pressing on with plans for the event which will be held at Richmond Park on Grand Rapids’ Westside from January 27 – February 12.

“This weather has been crazy, but it hasn’t deterred us from moving forward with our plans for WinterWest 2012,” says Paul Knust, a member of the WinterWest planning team.

According to the event website, WinterWest is a celebration of Winter in West Michigan aimed at getting people out of the house to enjoy all that winter has to offer.  The 2-week festival boasts several planned events including the Crazy Cardboard Sled Competition, a 3-on-3 Hockey Tournament, and a chance for kids to ice-skate with members of the Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey Team, along with their mascot Griff.

A new addition to the WinterWest line-up this year is the Richmond Park Winter Rush, an extreme adventure race that incorporates many of the natural outdoor elements of Richmond Park.  Course obstacles boast names like “Over the River and Through the Woods”, “Field of Snow Angels” and the “Nantucket Sleigh Ride”, a quick ride down the famous Richmond Park sledding hill.  Race participants may sign up as individuals or as a team.  Registration is open until January 23 and the race fee is $25 per participant.

WinterWest is a collaborative effort of WelcomeWest, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, and the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department, to return ice-skating to just one of the many parks that used to host winter ice-rinks.

“Many people remember skating on Richmond Pond growing up,” says event co-organizer Kyle Van Strien. “We’re excited to offer this opportunity for families to come out and enjoy winter together.”

The warming shelter will be open and complimentary hot chocolate and coffee will be available on weekends and during planned events.  “We’re very grateful to our event sponsors who make all of this possible – from the hot chocolate to the ice rinks, we couldn’t do this without them,” says Van Strien.

WinterWest 2012 event sponsors include Rockford Construction, Georgio’s Gourmet Pizza, B & B Beer, and Brann’s Sizzling Steaks and Sports Grille.  Event organizers are also working collaboratively with the Grand Rapids Public Schools to offer opportunities for students in the local neighborhood schools, like Harrison Park.

“We’re all about creating a place where individuals and families want to live, work and play,” says Van Strien. “WinterWest is just one more effort to highlight why we love Grand Rapids!”

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