Coon Rapids Snowflake Days kicks off Jan. 23

Coon Rapids Snowflake Days kicks off its 50th anniversary next week.

The first of more than 25 events planned for the  2014 celebration starts Thursday, Jan. 23 with the third annual Snowflake Days Mayors Cup at the Bunker Hills Golf Club simulation center, a three-day event that concludes Saturday, Jan. 25.

The 2014 Snowflake Days spans four weekends this year ending Sunday, Feb. 16.

“This is the biggest Snowflake Days in its history,” said Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe, who is a member of the Coon Rapids Snowflake Association planning committee.

Howe encourages residents to support Snowflake Days by attending and getting involved in the events, he said.

“This is a great city event,” Howe said. “People in the community have been stepping up.”

There are events for all ages – from children to adults and everyone in between, according to Howe.

“They are also taking place at different locations all over the city,” Howe said.

The 2014 Snowflake Days is a mix of traditional events, some revived from past years, and a lot of new activities.

Besides the Mayor Cup simulated golf tournament, the first weekend also includes the kids’ medallion hunt, a community sock hop, men’s softball in the snow tournament and a family skating event.

The kids’ medallion hunt is at Al Flynn Park, near Lilli-Putt Entertainment Center off Coon Rapids Boulevard. There will be boys’ and girls’ divisions for children ages five to 10, with the girls hunt at 10:30 a.m. and the boys to follow.

There must be a minimum of 10 children taking part in each group for the hunts to take place. The winning girl and boy will receive a $200 gift certificate to Jerry’s Schwinn.

The hunt is sponsored by the Coon Rapids Firefighters Local 1935, which will host participants at Fire Station 1 on Egret Boulevard, a short walk from the park, at 10 a.m. with hot chocolate, a tour of the fire station and a chance to have a photo taken with firefighters.

Back as an event after a long absence is the men’s softball in the snow tournament at Sand Creek Park Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25 and 26, a 16-team double elimination event with cash prizes. It’s sponsored by the Shortstop Bar and Grill.

The annual community sock hop will be at Sand Creek Elementary School from 4-6 p.m. Dance music will be provided by professional disc jockey Eric Christensen, plus concessions, glow in the dark necklaces and the opportunity to dress up in 1950s and 1960s attire.

There is no charge, but non-perishable food items will be accepted for donation to the school’s food shelf.

In addition, donations of children’s books, hats and gloves are appreciated, according to Diane Buszta, Coon Rapids Snowflake Association president.

New this year is a family skating event at the Coon Rapids Ice Center, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 26.

Skating activities will take place on both the indoor and outdoor rinks free of charge.

Two ongoing Snowflake Days events also begin the first weekend of the celebration – the adult medallion hunt and the Coon Rapids history trivia contest (see separate story for details).

There are no midweek Snowflake Days events the first week, but the second weekend features a benefit hockey game at the Coon Rapids Ice Center Saturday, Feb. 1, 5:30 p.m., between the Minnesota NHL Alumni and the Coon Rapids Guns & Hoses/Rum River Lawmen; a youth ice fishing tournament at Crooked Lake Saturday, Feb. 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; a pickleball tournament at Coon Rapids Middle School Sunday, Feb. 2, 9 a.m.; and the Coon Rapids North Star Lions Club all-you-can waffle breakfast at the Coon Rapids VFW Sunday, Feb. 2, 8 a.m. to noon.

Snowflake Days activities for seniors are scheduled at the Coon Rapids Senior Center Monday, Feb. 3 and Wednesday, Feb. 5 – a beach party and chair massage Feb. 3 and Snowflake bingo Feb. 5.

Thursday, Feb. 6, there will be an acoustic concert featuring GB Leighton and Tim Mahoney at the Harvest Grill, 8-10 p.m., and a sledding party and family fun night activities at Wintercrest Park sledding hill and warming house, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

The third weekend of Snowflake Days has the Coon Rapids Junior Royalty Pageant at Coon Rapids High School at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, while Coon Rapids Snowflake Association members will also be at Crooked Lake Feb. 8 for the 1 p.m. Polar Plunge in support of the Coon Rapids Police Department (Rapids Responders) team raising money for the Minnesota Special Olympics.

There will be a bean bag tournament at the Coon Rapids American Legion Sunday, Feb. 9, 1-5 p.m.

The final weekend of the 50th anniversary celebration of Snowflake Days begins with a Valentine’s Day Sno Ball Dance Friday, Feb. 14, 7-11 p.m., at the Coon Rapids Civic Center.

The next day, Saturday, Feb. 15, the annual children’s carnival will be at Sand Creek Elementary School, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and there will also be a boot hockey co-recreation and men’s tournament, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., on the outdoor ice at the Coon Rapids Ice Center.

The final events of the 2014 Coon Rapids Snowflake Days take place Sunday, Feb. 16 at the Bunker Hills Golf Course and Bunker Hills Clubhouse.

The Coon Rapids High School Nordic ski team will host a cross country skiing event at the golf course, starting at 11 a.m.,  that will include ski lessons and a 5K tour event, while in the PGA Hall of Fame room in the clubhouse, the Coon Rapids Arts Commission will present a children’s art expo from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In addition to the adult medallion hunt and the history trivia contest, there will be two other ongoing activities – a picture trivia contest and a snow sculpture competition.