Fifty degrees in December. Dry roads and sidewalks. Many people I know have enjoyed the unseasonal weather. But at the same time, I'm hearing grumblings from folks who have flooded outdoor rinks or enjoy skiing. This is (nearly) winter in Minnesota. There are many people looking forward to winter activities. Plus Santa is likely to deliver skates, snowshoes, and sleds under the tree in a few days. Not to mention snow removal companies and others that depend on winter's arrival.

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Tim Truelson, Recreation Manager for Owatonna Parks and Recreation, says in a blog post that the department is ready for winter to arrive. With COVID numbers still affecting day-to-day life, he states, "now more than ever might be a great time to partake in some winter outdoor activities...Ice skating, cross country skiing, fat-tire bike trail riding, sledding at West Hills or a stroll down our beautiful trail system are all opportunities that we have to offer."

He also says there are a few changes at the Warsinski ice rinks at Morehouse Park to be aware of due to COVID protocol,

Currently the chalet cannot be open...Also at this time bonfire are not allowed. Due to current changes additional benches will be placed outside the chalet for people to change into their skates.

Truelson says there will still be rental of skates and skis. He says to watch the park and rec Facebook page for updates. When the rinks open, hours will be Monday thru Friday 3 to 9:30 pm, Saturdays, holidays, and school vacation days 11 am to 9:30 pm, and Sunday 12 pm to 9:30 pm.

Cross country skiing is available at Brooktree, Morehouse and Kaplan's. Those with fat-tire bikes can pedal through Kaplan's Woods, "there are six to seven miles of mountain bike trails," writes Truelson, "These are great for riding in the winter months."

A sledding hill will be open at West Hills when conditions allow, south of the City Administration building.

Or simply go for a walk or jog, "The Owatonna Park and Recreation Department keeps all the hard surface trails clear of ice and snow during the winter months," says Truelson, "So hopefully you can get into the great outdoors this winter...Enjoy!"

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