Outdoor activities abundant in Prairie du Chien this spring/summer

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Baseball coordinator and Coach Jeff Graewin helped Bradley Anderson, 5, of Prairie du Chien, line up his hit during parks and rec T-ball last summer. (Courier Press file photo)

By Correne Martin

There is no shortage of engaging outdoor activities this spring and summer in Prairie du Chien.  A multitude of opportunities for children and adults is available through the parks and recreation department, a number of them for free and others for a nominal fee. Community residents and non-residents are welcome to participate.

Registration is necessary for most of the programs and can be done online at http://pdc.recdesk.com/recdeskportal. Or, forms are available inside the activity guide booklets that were sent home locally with students, supplemented in local Courier Press subscriptions or are available at city hall, the library or Hoffman Hall. Registration is needed by May 27.

“The biggest thing that can cancel any of our programs is people not signing up in a timely manner,” Parks and Rec Director Mike Ulrich said. “Registration is important to ensure the programs will happen.”

Some of the programming highlights are detailed below.

Outdoor rec
All of the following activities are held at Washington Street Park.

•The city’s outdoor rec center at Washington Street Park, co-sponsored by the Prairie du Chien Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, offers a variety of outdoor rentals that allow people adventures on the river as well as family-friendly activities on land. Canoes, kayaks, paddles, life jackets, fishing poles, bikes and helmets and disc golf equipment are available June through September on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m. For other days and times, equipment can be reserved by calling 326-7207.

•Hook and Ladder Family Fishing and Paddling Fun is Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to noon. The whole family can enjoy a morning of hands-on fishing, canoeing and kayaking instruction. Equipment is provided. The Prairie du Chien Fire Department, Cabela’s and the Wisconsin DNR co-sponsor this event.

“The volunteers we have are really good,” Ulrich said. ‘This year, we’ve made a new attraction: minnow races. We took the idea from a fishing expo. It’s a pretty cool thing and should be pretty fun.”

•A youth fishing derby will be Sunday, July 16, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Equipment and bait are provided.

•A family guided water paddle will tour the backwaters of the Mississippi River on Thursday, Aug. 3, from 6 to 8 p.m. Local paddling specialist Russ Hagen will lead this unique opportunity for all ages. “Everyone likes Russ,” Ulrich noted.

•Canoe and kayak classes are provided for users 10 and older. Two-hour clinics will offer the essentials of boat fitting, maneuvering, paddling and technique. These are idea for new paddlers; no roll experience is needed though participants must be competent swimmers. Sessions run on Thursdays, July 13 or 20, from 6 to 8 p.m.

•The Great River Paddlers Club travels sections of the lower Wisconsin and Mississippi backwaters in Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as some smaller inland rivers such as the Yellow and Kickapoo. Sunday paddles begin at 10 a.m. at designated boat landings and are usually three hours long. For more information, contact Sally Marshall at 326-0542 or tigerlilly4434@yahoo.com.

•Fishing Fun Days are a chance for elderly and special needs citizens to enjoy a fishing experience. Equipment and bait are provided and fishing educators are there to help catch the big one. The parks and rec department partners with the local ADRC office to make these memories possible.

“We’re able to get people who typically don’t get outdoors on the water to enjoy it and have fun. I don’t know if they’d get to do this otherwise,” Ulrich shared.

Youth and adult sports
•T-ball and baseball begin June 13 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Lochner Park. For ages 5 and 6, the six-week program is an introduction to the game, including throwing, catching, batting, etc., with some game play. Ages 7 through 9 will practice and play for seven weeks. They will build upon their skills and play coach-pitched, modified games. Players need to bring gloves.

•Junior golf starts June 12 and runs on Mondays through July 30 at the Barnyard Nine course. Open to boys and girls ages 8 to 17, this is not a competitive league. Beginners and advanced players are welcome to learn for eight weeks, through a combination of lessons, rules, etiquette and on-course play. The schedule is: 13-17 year olds play from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 8-12 year olds play from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Equipment will be available for those who don’t have their own.

•Tennis and pickle ball lessons and equipment rental are available at Hoffman Hall. Call 326-2985 for rentals or 326-7207 to be placed on a list if interested in lessons.

“By renting what we have, it provides people a unique opportunity to try before they buy,” Ulrich said.

Preschool and youth leisure
•New this year, Toddle Time will provide interactive play for 3 to 5 year olds with or without their parents, giving children a great social experience with a teacher. Activities include age appropriate, themed programs such as crafts, music and more. This program, held at Fort Fun, begins June 14 and runs every other Wednesday through Aug. 23.

“Debbie Johnson, who does Kindermusik, is running this for us,” Ulrich said.

•Another new program, that is free, is Kids in the Garden, co-sponsored by the Crawford County Master Gardeners. Kids ages 5 to 14 (and their parents, under 10) are welcome to meet at the St. Feriole Island Memorial Gardens, with hopes of learning about and harvesting vegetables and plants. The kids will taste and talk about how they are used; there may be extras to take home. The class gathers for the first time on June 16 and then runs the first and third Wednesdays of the month, June 21 through Aug. 16. Preregister by calling Donna Teynor at (608) 412-4661. The hour-long program is available at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“Donna is really into this. She will have volunteers helping her,” Ulrich pointed out. “This is something to get away from all the sports we do, promote the gardens, teach kids something new and have them even pull some weeds and do their own harvesting.”

•Dramahawk Junior Camp teaches drama exercises, games and activities, with an emphasis on having fun and holding a season-ending performance. Camp is for 6 to 17 year olds and meets July 10-14, from 9 to 11:30 a.m., at Hoffman Hall. Parents are asked to meet at the first session.

Special events
•The popular Yoga on the River at Lawler Park begins June 1 and runs Thursdays, from 5 to 6 p.m., through Aug. 31. This is a special opportunity for people to bend, breathe, refresh and rejuvenate on the riverfront.

“We tried this last year for the first time and it’s really a different kind of experience outside along the river,” Ulrich stated.

•A bus trip to see the Milwaukee Brewers will be taken Thursday, June 22, to a 1 p.m. game at Miller Park. This trip is sponsored by Southwest Collision Center and Mark and Megan Pedretti.

“This year is our ninth annual trip. There’s only 15 spots left on the bus; it’s filling up fast,” Ulrich said. “This is the cheapest Brewers trip you can find in the area.”

•Concerts on the river is free every Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Lawler Park. The whole family can enjoy a variety of the area’s top musical talents. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and snacks and enjoy this casual evening of entertainment. The first concert is June 15 and the last is Aug. 3.

•A skateboard competition and the grand reopening of the Prairie du Chien Skateboard Park will be Saturday, July 22, at 10 a.m., co-sponsored by the Children’s Advisory Board. All ages and ability levels are welcome. Judging will be on the use of the course, flow, difficulty and consistency. Register the day of the event. Check out the eight new challenging additions to the park. Helmets are required. For more information, call 326-7207.

•Three public pool parties will be held for families at the Wacouta Aquatic Park June 21 at 6:30 p.m., July 19 at 6:30 p.m. and Aug. 21 at 1:30 p.m. Themes are “Longest Day of Play Party,” “Shark Night” and “Total Eclipse of Sun Party.”

•Vacation tickets to Wisconsin destinations like Noah’s Ark, Mt. Olympus, the Wisconsin Ducks and Upper Dells, the Milwaukee Zoo, Pirates Cove Golf and Jet Boat Adventures are available at a discounted price at Prairie du Chien City Hall.
“Spread the word. This is a benefit for our residents and for us. Everybody goes on vacation to many of these places anyway and these are dirt cheap tickets,” Ulrich commented.

In addition to countless parks available citywide, there’s plenty to do, day and night, for any age or ability. Whether it’s one of the community’s most popular activities or something new to you, there’s something worth checking out.

For more information on any of these programs, call parks and rec at 326-7207.

Peoples State Bank is a major sponsor of the activity guide booklets, which further explain all activities available to the public.

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