OWATONNA — As another heat wave rolls into the area this weekend, Owatonna’s Parks and Recreation Department will offer several ways to remain cool during the 9th annual Weekend Out.
And the weather is forecast to be warm this weekend. Really warm. Make that hot. According to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, temperatures on Saturday will be in the mid-80s with sunny skies and little wind. Sunday will be even warmer, with highs in the upper 80s under mostly sunny skies.
“We have ways to cool them down,” said Parks and Rec’s Jessica Abrahams. “We hope a lot of people come out and enjoy the free activities.”
For example, the cardboard boat regatta starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at River Spring Water Park. The regatta challenges amateur builders of all ages to construct and navigate boats entirely from corrugated cardboard. Registration is required, and more details can be found on the Parks and Recreation website. Spectators are welcome to watch the homemade vessels sink or sail in the water park’s activity pool.
Later Saturday, Lake Kohlmier will host a beach party from 5-7 p.m., a new offering for the Weekend Out, Abrahams said. “We’ll have different games, music, volleyball, a bonfire, a photo booth,” and concessions will be available, as well.
Also Saturday at Lake Kohlmier, individuals can try out new equipment — including kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, paddle boats, and Hydro Bikes — from noon to 7 p.m. for a special deal of only $3 per one-hour rental, she said. This is the first year Parks and Rec has offered equipment for rent at the lake, so “we want to highlight that.”
Sunday features reduced rates at River Springs, as individuals can enjoy all-day admission for only $2.50, a “good discount” from the typical fees of $7 and $5 for people over and under 48 inches tall, respectively, Abrahams said. This Sunday special “always brings in a ton of people.”
The Weekend Out kicks off Friday with a movie screening at the Owatonna Soccer Complex. “The Sandlot” will start at sunset, roughly 8:45 p.m., and pre-movie activities begin an hour prior. Concessions will be available, but attendees are asked to bring their own chairs, blankets, etc. Should inclement weather strike — there’s a slight chance of storms Friday night, according to the weather service — movie night will move to Saturday evening.
“This is our first movie-in-the-park this summer, so we expect a lot of people,” Abrahams said.
Conducting it at the space by Lincoln Elementary also allows the city to show off the remodeled tennis courts there.
Cracks and disrepair has made the tennis courts “unusable,” and they’d been “locked up” for years, so “we thought it would be a neat idea” to refurnish the area with equipment “anyone can play,” said Parks and Recreation’s MJ Kundson. The area is now suited for pickleball, bocce ball, ping pong, and, yes, still tennis, among other possibilities.
The space not devoted to pickleball and tennis is artificial turf, so it’s easier to maintain, and Parks and Rec has various equipment individuals can rent and use in this new play area, Knudson said. The project was completed this fall, and “we are grateful” for grants that helped finance the project, including one from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Early Saturday, Dartts Park will host the Diaper Dash, Toddler Trot, and Kids K Trail Runs. Races are free, all participants who finish receive a prize, and there’s no need to pre-register — just show up Saturday morning for the action, which begins at 9 a.m.
The Diaper Dash — technically a crawl — is for children ages 2 and younger, and the course is 10 feet. The Toddler Trot is a 100-meter run for children ages 2-5, while the Kids K is a full kilometer trail run for youth ages 4-12.
Parks and Recreation is also offering a trail challenge this weekend, Abrahams said. Those who spend time on at least three of five (Kaplan’s Woods Parkway, Muckle Trail, Buxton Trail, North Straight River Parkway, and Leo Rudolph Trail) city trails this weekend — walking, biking, or running — can enter a drawing for prizes.
All they need to do is fill out a simple form and turn it into the Parks and Rec office by next Friday, or submit it online at the Parks and Rec website, she said. Forms are available from the office or online.
Offering equipment rentals, encouraging trail patronage, and conducting social events are all part of Parks and Recreation’s overall strategy of persuading people to spend more time outside in their community, she said. “Maybe they’ll find a new hobby that will get them outdoors more.”