DeKalb Park District’s annual Polar Palooza to bring fun to Hopkins Park

The annual winter festival, set to return Feb. 3, will feature fun for the entire family to enjoy.

DeKALB – Whether it’s snow or shine, organizers behind the DeKalb Park District’s Polar Palooza say they are planning to go ahead with hosting the annual winter festival on Saturday, Feb. 3, from noon to 3 p.m., at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Rd., DeKalb.

In its eighth year, Polar Palooza will return with fun for the entire family to enjoy.

New this time around is a fleet of snowplows as part of a touch-a-truck display of city-owned vehicles, snowman bowling, snowman volcanos and ice treasure digging.

Chrissy Tluczek, the park district’s superintendent of recreation, said she is excited to see how many people turn out for Polar Palooza this year.

“Our attendance is weather dependent,” Tluczek said. “We have had fantastic turnout the last couple years. … We’ve had about 500 individuals come through Polar Palooza the last two years. We hope to reach those numbers or even grow those numbers this year.”

The event strives to be inclusive to all, featuring activities both indoors and outdoors at no cost to participating families.

As in year’s past, Polar Palooza festival-goers can try their hand at ice skating and sledding. They’re encouraged to bring their own skates and sleds. A small number of skates will be available for rent at no cost.

Attendees also can expect to enjoy roasting s’mores and drinking hot chocolate.

Inside the Hopkins Community Center, festival-goers may be greeted by the park district’s mascot, Ronnie the River Otter while enjoying a cotton candy treat.

Tluczek said one reason that Polar Palooza has been successful in year’s past is because of the event’s variety.

“I think it’s popular because there’s several different things to do,” she said. “We have both indoor and outdoor activities. We’ll have crafts, hot chocolate, s’mores roasting [and] hayrides. It’s come and go. Everything is free of charge. We charge $0 for anything that we offer, so it’s a great way to get out with the whole family in a cost-effective way that’s a fun thing to do on a Saturday afternoon.”

The park district begins planning for Polar Palooza immediately after the previous winter festival concludes, officials said.

“It’s been almost a yearlong endeavor planning for the event,” Tluczek said.

Tluczek said that putting on the event is a big undertaking for the park district.

“We have park district staff from all areas of the district, from the recreation department to our parks and maintenance staff to administration staff all helping out,” she said. “But we do also look to some volunteers. We utilize volunteers from the community to help. Additionally, we collaborate with Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association. This year, [we’re partnering] with police, fire and the city of DeKalb. We also have some vendors that we utilize, as well.”

Tluczek said she believes Polar Palooza is a great complement to the mission of the park district.

“I think Polar Palooza is a great highlight to showcase what we do at the park district,” she said. “It’s inclusive and it’s accessible to everyone in the community. I think it highlights just the fun that we try to bring in on a daily basis.”

For information on the event, visit or call 815-758-6663.

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