Family Time: Take in a cool shower this weekend at Whitewater
Get outside and into the night sky at Whitewater State Park's Cold Nights and Streaking Lights program. Part of Whitewater's ongoing lineup of family-friendly programming, Cold Nights and Streaking Lights will introduce families to the Geminid Meteor Shower — an astronomical event where skywatchers may see 50 of more meteors per hour during peak times.
"This is the best viewing night there is for the Geminid Meteor Shower," said Jeremy Darst, Whitewater State Park interpretive naturalist. "If the clouds cooperate, we'll get to see some of the longest lasting, brightest trails. And it just keeps getting better heading later into the night, reaching its peak about 2 a.m."
Participants will start the night off in the park's visitor center, where they will learn about winter constellations. Then it's time to head out for a half-mile or less hike out to an open meadow. Once there, no special equipment will be needed. Instead, participants will look up, seeing the shower with nothing but the naked eye.
"My whole thought with this type of program is that you should be able to go outside and see stuff without any special equipment. I'll teach you how to make a map of the sky and how to find it (the shower)," Darst said. "Then, next year this time, you can head outside and you'll be able to find the shower again."
Whitewater State Park is one of Minnesota's 67 state parks. Open year-round, the park offers organized events such as Cold Nights and Streaking Lights, as well as informal activities including hiking, snowshoeing, birding and trout fishing.
"Going through the park in the winter is a whole different experience," Darst said, noting snowshoes can be rented onsite. "There are a lot of things that are normally hidden by foliage that you can see now. And there's all the tracks. It's fascinating to see what birds and animals are up to. With the tracks, everyone is leaving evidence of that behind."
The program is free. However, park admission fees apply (daily, $5; annual, $25). Remember to dress warm — wear boots, hat and gloves. Bring a flashlight if you have one.
What:Cold Nights and Streaking Lights
Where:Whitewater State Park, 19041 Highway 74, Altura
When:7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday
On the web: www.dnr.state.mn.us
Other upcoming events
• Whooos invited? You're invited — to Whitewater's Winter Owl Prowl. The naturalist-led program will take families outside, calling for owls, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 20.
• Staff from the National Eagle Center will offer the Live Golden Eagle Program, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 10. Participants will see a live golden eagle up close.
• Stop by Snowshoe Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays in February. Borrow park snowshoes or bring your own, then head out with park staff to explore the forest, meadow and stream to look for signs of wildlife.
If you are wondering what the kids will do over Winter Break, check out The Y's Holiday Camp. Offered 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 26, 29, 30 and 31, and Jan. 2, the day camp-style event offers kids in kindergarten through sixth grade the opportunity to swim, craft and play in a supervised environment. Cost is $30 per day or $140 per week for members or $35 per day or $160 per week for nonmembers. Free extended care offered 6:30 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Call 507-287-2260 to save your son or daughter's spot.
Is there more?It's not too early to start thinking about Spring Break. The Y offers Spring Break Camp, March 30 through April 3. Similar in price, style and content to their Holiday Camp, visit rochfamy.org to find out more.
Calm your sweet tooth at Bear Creek Services Cookie Classic, 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 13 at 3108 U.S. 52 North. Homemade cookies, fudge and bars will be for sale at $6 per pound. Free children's activities and photos with Santa. Proceeds benefit Bear Creek Services and the nonprofit's work to help kids and adults with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. Go to bearcreekservices.org to find out more.
What else?RideAbility is holding their Cookie Walk, 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 13 at Rochester Feed and Country Store, Five 11th St. S.E., Rochester. Fill a container, with your choice of homemade cookies, for $6. Proceeds benefit Rideability, rideability.org , a nonprofit that provides horseback riding and related activities for families of children or adults with special needs.
Stop by for a visit with Old Saint Nick at Breakfast with Santa, 8 to 11 a.m. Dec. 13 (Santa available 8 to 10 a.m.), at the Century High School cafeteria, 2525 Viola Road N.E., Rochester. Hot chocolate, muffins, fruit cups, music, games and crafts are included in the $5 donation per child (and adults, if they are eating). Bring your camera for a photo with Santa. All money raised will be donated by Century High School's Student Government to Bear Creek Services and Brighter Tomorrows. Registration is not required. However, it is appreciated and can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sing out loud, it's Choral Arts Ensemble's Family Holiday Concert, 10:30 a.m. Dec. 13, at the Rochester Public Library, 101 Second St. S.E. The half-hour concert is a kid-friendly version of Choral Arts Ensemble's Christmas at Assisi concert and features kid favorites such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Free. No registration required. Visit rochesterpubliclibrary.org for more information.
Need to know more?Choral Arts Ensemble's Christmas at Assisi concert runs Friday through Sunday, Dec. 12 (7:30 p.m.), Dec. 13 (7:30 p.m.) and Dec. 14 (4 p.m.), at Assisi Heights. CAE will be joined by the Honors Choirs Concert Choir and will perform holiday classics including Handel's Messiah and Stille Nacht. Tickets are $5 for students, $17 for adults and $28 for preferred seating and may be purchased online. Click on choralartsensemble.org to find out more.