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The Winter Warmup!

Whether we want to admit it or not…Winter is coming. We want to help you prepare with The Winter Warmup! For the next 8 weeks, we’ll provide fun activities for you to do to help you get ready. Take pictures during the challenge and post on social media and tag #TheWinterWarmup!

Week 5: Dec 6-Dec 12

December 6: Decorate Some Holiday Cookies

Holiday Cookie and Gingerbread House Contests

All Ages

ENTER COOKIES: December 2-11

Baking is a great way to get moving! Celebrate the holiday season and show off your decorating skills. Don’t worry about the taste because this will be a virtual contest! Visit our website to learn how you can enter today!


December 7Go to a Playground

Use our Bucket List Challenge to find a new playground today!


December 8: Take a silly picture in front of a park sign

December 9: Play an Imaginary Game of Baseball in Centennial Park

Use your imagination to hit a Grand Slam or even strike out the best batter on the team! Anything is possible with a little imagination.

December 10: Clean Out Your Closets & Donate to our 4th Annual Bundle Up’s Clothing Drive

We’re partnering with the City of Champaign & Champaign Center Partnership to give warmth to those in need this holiday season. We are accepting new and gently used winter clothing items (hats, gloves, coats, scarves, etc.). You can drop off your donated items at the following locations:

  • Leonhard Recreation Center | 2307 Sangamon Drive
  • Bresnan Meeting Center | 706 Kenwood Road
  • Springer Cultural Center | 301 N. Randolph Street
  • City Building | 102 N. Neil Street

December 11: Hide Painted Rocks

Hiding painted rocks is a great way to get moving! 5-10 painted rocks are all you need for an afternoon of fun.

December 12: Attend Holiday in Whoville

All Ages

Join us for a real holiday treat! Watch Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 TV short) with screenings at 1p, 2p, 3p, and 4p. Concessions will not be available nor can food be brought into the theatre. During the event, we will have pictures with Santa and trolley rides through Downtown Champaign.

Fee: $4, children under 2 are free. Tickets available at the door or online at thevirginia.org
Questions: zoe.southlynn@champaignparks.org or 217-819-3931

Week 6: Dec 13-Dec 19

December 13: Visit the Everette Memorial Rock Garden

This memorial in Clark Park, commemorates the “undying love for the great outdoors” of Debbie Lynn Everette (June 4, 1959 – May 19, 1988). Hefty stones from places of special fondness to her are symbolized here through the display of six large boulders collected from mountainous regions around the country.

December 14Play a game of H-O-R-S-E

H-O-R-S-E is a game played by two or more people on a basketball court. The idea of the game involves matching baskets. The player who makes shots that the opponent does not duplicate, wins the game.

December 15: Take a picture of an animal at a park

Please ask for consent to take photos of others’ pets before completing this activity.

December 16: Play a game of Disc Golf at Dodds Park

December 17: Go on a Tree Hunt with our Public Tree Map

Have you asked yourself, “I wonder what kind of tree that is?” Lucky for you, we put together a CPD Trees Public Map! Every tree in Champaign parks have been linked with information about each tree. Visit our CPD Trees Public Map today!


December 18: Play Bocce in Centennial Park

There are 2 Bocce Ball Courts on the Southwest side of Centennial Park. 

December 19: Stroll through the Lindsay New American Garden

Lindsay New American Gardens features ornamental grass groupings and specimens mixed with perennial flowers on a large scale. This concept results in an informal, flowing style with year round interest as the garden changes with the seasons. 


Week 7: Dec 20-Dec 26

December 20: Play Gaga Ball in Clark Park

Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodge ball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball. Fun and easy, everyone gets a serious workout.

December 21:  Take a Tour of The Virginia Theatre

BY APPOINTMENT: please call 217-356-9063

Did you know that the Champaign Park District’s Virginia Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places? And did you know that its original—and fully restored—1921 Wurlitzer Pipe Organ has over 750 pipes, or what (totally unexpected) features the painters uncovered in 2013, during a $5.5 million renovation? Come for a free, one-hour tour at downstate Illinois’ premier 1920s movie palace and live performance space to find this out and more! Tours are offered by appointment. To schedule, call 217-356-9063, or mitch.marlow@champaignparks.org. Donations to the Virginia Theatre Restoration Fund are encouraged.

December 22: Skip Rocks at Kaufman Lake

An expert rock skipper can achieve dozens of skips in a single throw. To begin your quest for stone skipping success, follow these steps:

1. Select a skipping stone

The stone should be mostly flat, about the size of the palm of your hand and about the weight of a tennis ball. Triangular stones tend to skip best. Avoid circular stones. They’re less stable.

2. Grip the stone properly

Hold it with your thumb and middle finger, then firmly hook your index finger along the edge. Your thumb goes on the top of the stone, not around the edge.

3. Throw the stone

Stand up straight, facing at a slight angle to the water. Try to maintain this position during your entire windup and release. The lower your hand is at the release, the better.

Throw out and down at the same time. A skipping stone is bouncing off the water, so give it plenty of downward force. Try throwing faster instead of harder — strength is not the key, quickness is.

4. Release the stone

The faster the stone is spinning, the better it will skip. Spin it as hard as you can with a quick snap of your wrist. The stone should hit the water parallel to the surface.

Tips by Jerdone McGhee, founder of the North American Stone Skipping Association.

December 23: Play Hopscotch at Beardsley Park


December 24: Give a speech at the Bilbrey Bandstand in West Side Park

“Perhaps its greatest visitor was Theodore Roosevelt who spoke to throngs of spectators as he campaigns for President on the Bull Moose ticket on April 8, 1912. After the original band shell fell into disrepair it was finally razed. Today thanks for the generous contribution of former park commission Terry Bilbrey the new bandshell has been constructed in its original location with architectural details inspired from the first band stand.”-Explore C-U

December 25: Handwrite a friend a letter

Grab a hot drink, a cozy spot, and things to write with to handwrite a friend a nice letter.

December 26: Play tag at your favorite park

autumn foliage of an elm tree on the ground close up and against the background of a blurry running walking kid girl in an fall park

Week 8: Dec 27-Jan 2

December 27: Build Sand or Snow Castles at Clark Park

December 28Go Geochaching 

Geocaching is a type of global treasure hunt of people looking for caches, or hidden stashes of objects. Geocaching may also be described as a series of hide-and-seek games, where hiders provide online clues for seekers.


December 29: Take a spin on an OmniSpin®

 The OmniSpin® is becoming a Champaign Park District favorite in our playgrounds. This piece of equipment is designed to be accessible and fun for all to enjoy. Eisner Park, Hessel Park, West Side Park, and more now have this accessible park feature.

December 30: Bird Watch at Heritage Park

December 31: Volunteer with us

We can always use volunteers for sport coaches, events, Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation, and more. Visit our website to volunteer today!


January 1: Activity Coming Soon!

January 2: Find our Sled Hills

Even if it’s not snowing today, big hills are a fun way to enjoy the day! Check out the sled hills near you:

  1. Sunset Ridge Park | 4102 Boulder Ridge Drive
  2. Douglass Park | 501 E. Eureka Street
  3. Centennial Park | 2200 W. Kirby Avenue
  4. Morrissey Park | 1209 Harrington Drive

Week 1: Nov 8-14

November 8: Take a picture with an Oak Tree

Large Oak Tree with red leaves by playground

Use the Champaign Park District Tree Map >> to find an Oak Tree and take your picture with it!

November 9:  Pick up litter in your neighborhood or favorite park

Help keep your parks clean with champaign park district.

This movement challenge will help you warmup for winter while helping to keep your parks clean.

November 10: Go on a Nature Color Hunt

Rectangular nature color view finder. Different colors line the edge of the paper with the center cut out.

Print out our Nature Color Hunt View Finder and bring it with you to your favorite park!

November 11: Go for a bike ride

person riding bike through park on paved path.

November 12: Paper Texture Rubbing Art at the Olympic & Paralympic Tribute

engraved stones of Olympic & Paralympic athletes' names.

The Tribute to Olympic and Paralympic Athletes rises from an ordinary prairie landscape transformed by playing fields, gardens, and a community college campus. It honors the extraordinary achievements of Champaign County residents who have participated in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and its granite platform is inscribed with their names and the Olympic symbol of linked rings.

paper laid on textures surface. Purple crayon used to create texture on paper by rubbing across the surface.

Take a piece of paper and a crayon or pencil to The Olympic & Paralympic Tribute in Dodds Park to get a texture rubbing of the athletes’ names inscribed in the platform.

November 13: Stroll through one of our Natural Areas

Natural area field in the fall with blue sky

Whether you know the scientific name of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) or can’t tell the difference between a toad and a frog, we encourage you to discover all of our flourishing natural areas. Nestled within Heritage Park, Scott Park, Porter Family Park, and Sunset Ridge Park, all feature our careful attempt to restore the balance of nature in settings that are simultaneously beautiful and educational. So while you’re exercising your body, get out to our natural areas and exercise your mind and soul as well; no two visits will ever be the same.


November 14: Make a big leaf pile

children's feet in shoes in a pile of autumn fallen orange leaves in an fall forest or park. children are walking or traveling in nature

Week 2: Nov 15-21

November 15: Plant bulbs in your garden

If you haven’t planted bulbs in your garden yet, today’s your day! Time is running out before it’s too late to get them in the ground.

November 16:  Play a game of pickleball

Champaign Park District has several options for you to play a game of pickleball! Hessel Park has stand alone court as well as pickleball overlays on the tennis courts. Leonhard Recreation Center also has indoor pickleball.

If you love pickleball, register for the First Annual Champaign Park District Pickleball Open on December 3-5, 2021 at Leonhard Recreation Center. Deadline to register is Friday, November 19.


November 17: Find a BIG leaf

November 18: Take pictures during the “Golden Hour”

In photography, the golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. The golden hour is also sometimes called the “magic hour,” especially by cinematographers.

November 19: Hessel Park Tree Walk

Hessel Park, located off Kirby Avenue in Champaign, is a 26.9 acre park that is easily one of the most used parks in Champaign-Urbana. Because of its central location, ease of access and variety of park amenities, Hessel Park has been a favorite with both residents and visitors since the land was first donated in 1918.

In addition to the many park amenities like pavilions, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds, and grills, Hessel Park boasts one of the largest and healthiest tree populations within the Champaign Park District. With over 50 different species of trees dotting the landscape of this beautiful park, you’re sure to find something of interest.

Featured in this brochure are drawings provided by Jean Burridge, International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist, and descriptions of 28 of the more common species of trees that currently exist in Hessel Park. The purpose of the brochure is to provide opportunities for area school children and residents to learn about trees in central Illinois, and through a partnership with the University of Illinois Extension, to provide residents with access to information about proper planting and care for featured trees.

So take a stroll through the park and learn all about the trees of Champaign!

November 20: Skate at Spalding or Sunset Ridge Skate Parks

  • Spalding Park | 900 N Harris Ave, Champaign, IL 61820
  • Sunset Ridge Park | 3907 Boulder Ridge Dr, Champaign, IL 61822

November 21: Gather pinecones to make bird feeders

Branch of tree with pine cones, stock photo

Week 3: Nov 22-Nov 28

November 22: Workout in Douglass Park with the Douglass Fitness Trail

Douglass Fitness Trail (.74 mi) with outdoor exercise equipment (Ab Crunch/Leg Lift, Assisted Row/Push-Up, Balance Steps, Cardio Stepper, Chest/Back Press, Mobility Station, Plyometrics, Pull-Up/Dip, Squat Press, Stretching Station, Tai Chi Wheels). Visit our Douglass Park page for more information.


November 23: Go stargazing

A star at nigh sky with cloudy at night time

Take some time to go and look at the stars! 

November 24: Have a Fall Picnic

Autumn picnic in the forest or park, the blanket lies on yellow fallen leaves. Fruit in a basket and burgers

Picnics are for the fall too! Bring some extra blankets, a hot beverage, and some snacks for a delightful fall picnic in your favorite park.

November 25: Reenact an old photo

Find an old photo of yourself and reenact it with friends! Make sure to tag #TheWinterWarmup with your final creation so we can see it too.

November 26: Go to Winter Nights at Prairie Farm Opening Night!

Opening Night: November 26, 2021

Enjoy holiday lights every Thursday through Sunday, starting November 26 – January 2 at Prairie Farm. This will be an accessible experience featuring festive light displays throughout the farm. Bring your cocoa and enjoy a journey through a winter wonderland!

Join us for opening night on November 26 to meet Santa, listen to carolers, and enjoy complimentary hot chocolate!

Each day after opening night, support the Champaign Parks Foundation when you purchase a hot chocolate to enjoy while you peruse the lights! $2, cash only.


November 27: Attend the 21st Annual Parade of Lights presented by Christie Clinic

Champaign Park District trolley light up in holiday lights rolling through downtown Champaign.

Join us at the 21st Parade of Lights presented by Christie Clinic on Saturday, November 27! We will be part of the parade that’s escorting the big man himself through downtown. Visit the Parade of Lights website for more information.

November 28: Do a lap around Carle at the Fields trail

Long paved path surrounding a pond next to Carle administration building.

A partnership between Carle, the City of Champaign, and the Champaign Park District, Carle at the Fields Trial is a 2.4 mile 10′ wide paved accessible path with beautiful views. Visit the Carle at the Fields Trail page for more information on this great place to warmup for winter!

Week 4: Nov 29-Dec 5

November 29: Fly a Kite

Flying a kite is the perfect social distancing activity! You must maintain distance to successfully get your kite to soar. Let’s go fly a kite at our Top 5 Parks to Fly a Kite in Champaign.


November 30:  Play Tennis at an Outdoor Court

We’re preparing our outdoor tennis courts for winter weather beginning Wednesday, December 1! Visit our Outdoor Tennis Court Winter Schedule for more information.


December 1: Drink a warm beverage in your favorite park

December 2: Cruise the Indoor Track at Leonhard Recreation Center

One of the primary features of the Leonhard Recreation Center is an indoor three-lane indoor track (10-11 laps= 1 mile). Visit the Leonhard Recreation Center page for more information.


December 3: Visit the Decker Piano Garden

The CU Sunrise Rotary Club decided to memorialize Don Decker by combining his love of music and gardening to create this piano garden in Mattis Park.


December 4: Make some leaf art in the park

Use what leaves are still on the ground to create designs for others to enjoy!

December 5: Go on an Art in the Park Tour

We have created a virtual Art in the Park map! Use this map to find a new favorite sculpture or monument in Champaign!


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