The Parks & Recreation Division of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Public Services offers year-round seasonal recreation opportunities. With each season come new opportunities and events in which to participate. Enjoy the late summer beauty at any Portage Park. Fall is a great opportunity to view the autumn colors along the Portage Creek Bicentennial Parkway. After the autumn colors have faded, there are plenty of outdoor opportunities for you to enjoy winter in Michigan. All winter activities are included in the 2013 Winter Recreation Brochure.
Traditional Holiday and Tree Lighting
7 p.m. on Saturday, December 7
City Centre and Celery Flats Historic Area
Bring your family to experience the spirit of the holiday season. Festivities begin at City Centre with caroling and the tree lighting ceremony. Join in the caroling with a stroll down Bicentennial Trail to Celery Flats where Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet the children and hear their delightful Christmas wishes at the Historic Schoolhouse. At 8 p.m. enjoy local music talent and complimentary desserts at the adjacent Hayloft Theatre. Hot Chocolate and Hot Cider will be available for $1 donation per cup. Food and clothing donations also welcome. All proceeds from beverage sales will support local charities this holiday season. Parking is available at the Portage District Library, Portage Senior Center and City Hall.
Ice Skating Lessons at Millennium Park Ice Rink
Learn to skate with expert instructors from the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association. Fees for this program include two classes, skate rental and instruction. Pre-registration is required by calling 329-4522. Class size is limited to 12 students.
Fee: $20 per skater
Ages 5 - 11 Years
1/11 and 1/18
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Ages 5 - Adult
1/11 and 1/18
10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
West Lake Winter Wonders Walk
2 p.m on Saturday, January 18
West Lake Nature Preserve, 9001 S. Westnedge Avenue
West Lake Nature Preserve is one of the jewels in the Portage Park system’s crown. With the diverse habitats of wetlands, bogs and upland oak forest, this park supports a wide range of Michigan wildlife. Explore with Dan Keto of the Kalamazoo Nature Center and experience the natural history which arises on our walk as the temperatures of winter drop. Open to all ages, a great way to make outdoor memories with your family!
Downhill Ski or Snowboard Lessons
2-3:30 p.m. on January 26, February 2 and 9
Timber Ridge, 7500 23 ½ Street, Gobles
Age: 8 years – adult
Fee: $55 payable at Timber Ridge on January 26 plus pre-registration fee of $5/individual or $10/family payable at City of Portage Parks Department by January 24
Group downhill ski and snowboard lessons will be taught by professional instructors on the snowy slopes of Timber Ridge just 30 minutes from Portage. Fee includes equipment rental, instruction for three weeks and lift ticket valid until 8 p.m. on each lesson date. Space is limited and pre-registration (including names, ages and phone number) is required at the Portage Parks Department, 7719 S. Westnedge.
Cross Country Ski Class
Saturday, January 25 (See Family Class or Adult Class listing below for times.)
Schrier Park, 850 Osterhout Rd.
Registration required by January 23, in person at:
- Lee’s Adventure Sports, 311 Kilgore Rd. (381-7700) - OR -
- Breakaway Bicycles, 185 Romence Rd. (324-5555)
Participants may bring their own equipment or arrange rental through Lee’s Adventure Sports. Please note a minimum snow cover of four inches is required for this program.
Family class: An excellent opportunity for beginners to learn the correct way to cross country ski. This introductory class will emphasize safety, proper use of equipment and how to traverse a variety of winter terrain. An adult must accompany youth under age 9.
Age: 8 years – adult
Time: 9-11 a.m.
Fee: $15 per person
Adult class: Learn the diagonal stride with opposite and double poling, moving and stationary turns, uphill-downhill techniques, and how to choose and use various cross country equipment and clothing. In addition, personal safety and recommendations on local, regional and state ski destinations are covered in this comprehensive introduction class.
Age: 13 years – adult
Time: 1-3 p.m.
Fee: $20 per person
Winter Snow Party!
12-3 p.m. on Saturday, February 1
Oakland Drive Park, 7650 Oakland Dr.
A great opportunity to enjoy time with your family and friends, all while embracing the white wonders of Michigan outdoors. There will be many activities to enjoy such as sledding and a snowman-building contest! Build, decorate and bring your own cardboard sled! Build and dress up the biggest and fanciest snowman! Prizes will be awarded for best in show for both contests as well as the fastest cardboard sled! And for when you need a warm respite from the activities, there will be a bonfire and hot chocolate and coffee available for purchase. The Portage Youth Advisory Committee hosts the event and all ages are welcome.
Snowshoe Nature Hike
2 p.m. on Saturday, February 8
Schrier Park, 850 Osterhout Rd.
Join Kalamazoo Nature Center’s Lead Interpretive Naturalist, Dan Keto, on this winter nature adventure! Learn some animal track identification tips while making your own tracks in the snow. Explore the winter woods and observe the plants and animals that tough out the season’s colder temperatures. Nature hike will occur regardless of snow, hiking boots also welcome! New to snowshoeing? Let Lee’s Adventure Sports outfit you with a demo pair right on site. Available on a first come, first serve basis.
Valentine's Skate Date
Friday, February 14 at 6 p.m.
Fee: $12 per person; pre-registration at the rink is required by February 12.
New this year...private skate and dinner on the ice! Bring your spouse and/or kids for this unique Valentine experience. Start the evening dining on the ice with a meal catered by a server on skates. Following dinner, the rink will be reserved only for those registered for this event and re-opens to the public at 7 p.m. Feel free to skate all evening as there will be many fun prizes to give away.
Thursday, February 27 from 9-12 p.m.
Fee: $5 skate and rental package/ $3 skate only
No school on February 28 means late night fun and excitement at the ice rink on February 27! Bring your friends and skate under the star as the lights are dimmed and prizes are awarded. Colorful lighting and upbeat music will compliment this electrifying skating event.
Portage Winter Blast Half Marathon and 5k
8 a.m. on Sunday, March 2
Start/Finish Line: Portage Central High School
Registration now OPEN!
Join in this extraordinary community celebration of health and wellness as Kalamazoo Area Runners and City of Portage present the 2nd annual Portage Winter Blast Half Marathon and 5k! Enjoy the wintry views as hundreds of fellow runners make their journey through Portage’s trail system and along local roads. Post race refreshments, entertainment and awards will be available at the PCHS commons area. Parking is available at Portage Central Middle School, Elementary School, Portage Community Center, Portage District Library and Portage City Hall.