Friday, December 11, 2015

Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland Sets Record

The warmth of the log house and blacksmith shop beckoned to visitors through the clear, chilly night. Photographed by Chief Naturalist, Robb Clifford.
Darke County Parks’ annual Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland holiday event saw the largest crowd to date on Saturday December 6th. This was the 8th year Darke County Parks has hosted this public and staff favorite event. Over 900 people made their way through the half mile trail of Shawnee Prairie Preserve lit with luminaries and crisp with the hint of frost on the air. Attendees also enjoyed decorating gingerbread men, making feeders for winter birds, and constructing Christmas ornaments in the Nature Center. The Friends of the Darke County Parks Gift Shop was open selling wreaths made of sorghum seed tops from the crop pressed at Prairie Days this fall, gift baskets, and much more. St. Nick even stopped in to see what was going on and visit with some good little girls and boys.

At the log house, 200 year old staff and volunteers welcomed the chilly travelers in true historic style with spiced cider warmed at the hearth and sorghum cookies baked in the cobb oven. A mountain dulcimer filled the air with Christmas peace, and even inspired some singing. Upstairs visitors were invited to string popcorn and cranberries to decorate their trees or feed their birds at home. Outside at the blacksmith shop, the anvil rang and the forged glowed bright.

The staff knew it would be a peak year with the combination of mild weather and the spectacular hoar frost that morning, but they didn’t expect to set a new attendance record. Robb Clifford, Chief Naturalist, said, “The weather variations always make it difficult to plan, but it was a great event.” Roger Van Frank, Director, said, “The weather was perfect. I would like to thank all the volunteers, staff, and public for making this such a successful event yet again.” If you missed it this year, next year’s 9th annual Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland event will be held the first Saturday in December 2016. The Darke County Park District staff wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

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