Discover Winter Nights could be postponed

Published 9:52 am Thursday, January 21, 2016

The county’s annual celebration of the winter season may be postponed — due to a lack of winter weather.

In spite of the spat of snowstorms over the last several weeks, Saturday’s launch of the Cass County Parks Department’s Discover Winter Nights may face cancelation due to a lack of snow accumulation on the grounds of T.K. Lawless Park. With many of the events lined up for the evening, such as cross-country skiing and tubing, dependent on nearly half a foot or more of built-up snow, the department may have to postpone the kickoff of the series of weekend festivities, said Parks Director Scott Wyman.

While there has been a decent amount of snowfall over the last several days, the light nature of the precipitation has caused it to blow off the hills and grounds that will host many of the activities at the Vandalia park, the director said. With a lack of base caused by the mild conditions experienced in November and December, the department is hoping that the next few days will provide 4 to 6 inches of snow needed to support the tubing and skiing activities.

“Anytime you program for outdoor events you’re at the mercy of mother nature,” Wyman said.

The event is currently scheduled to take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Lawless Park over the next four Saturdays: Jan. 23 and 30 and Feb. 6 and 13. The department will still likely host some or all the additional dates even if Saturday’s event is canceled, Wyman said.

The department will determine over the next two days as to whether or not it will cancel Saturday’s event, announcing the news over Facebook or through a prerecorded voicemail, Wyman said.

The department has canceled Discover Winter Nights several times in the past over the 10-year history of the event, due to either lack of snow or extremely cold or dangerous winter conditions, Wyman said.

“Discover Winter Nights doesn’t necessarily bring in a lot of revenue,” Wyman said. “It’s more for families to have something to do on the weekends. Our success won’t be based off how many nights we can run the event.”

Besides the snow-based activities, this year’s Discover Winter Nights will offer several new and returning attractions, including the popular winter wagon rides and craft making for children. Each Saturday, the park will host a different educational activity, with subjects including winter tree identification, bird spotting and star gazing, Wyman said.

Volunteers with the Friends of the Cass County Parks will also be lending a hand, selling refreshments to visitors.

“It’s a low cost, quality event for the whole family,” Wyman said. “There’s something for everybody. Winter is already half over, so get out and enjoy it while you can.”