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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Rockford Park District's 'We Love Our Parks' Program Warms Hearts & Brightens Smiles

Rockford Park Distric

Rockford Park District doesn't want you to wear your heart on your sleeve. They want you to hang it on a tree! It's part of their 2021 Winter Flurry initiative called "We Love Our Parks." That's when kids (and their families and friends) create colorful stained-glass hearts and hang them on designated trees throughout the city.

Laura Gibbs-Green is the communications manager for the park district. She said they are distributing free kits throughout the community and that the kits are a great way for families to create art, get outside and have fun.

"We give you all the supplies," she said, "everything you need in a kit. We have 1,000 kits."

And she said the kits are for anyone.

"There are no restrictions on them at all," she said. "Just walk in and say you're there for our kits and we will glady give them to you."

Here is a list of pick-up sites:

  • Carlson Ice Arena
  • Lockwood Park
  • MercyHealth Sportscore Two
  • Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens
  • Snow Park at Alpine Hills
  • UW Health Sports Factory
  • Washington Park Community Center.

Gibbs-Green said there will be some surprise pop-up dropoffs, too.
Additionally, February is National Children's Dental Health Month so the kits -- made possible by Daniel P. Weyrauch, DDS and the Winnebago County Dental Society -- include a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss along with the stained-glass heart art supplies.

"And these two just seem to go hand-in-hand," she said. "We hope that everybody smiles when they visit their park. And then we're hoping that they take care of those smiles for a lifetime."

So when you complete your craft -- first brush and floss your teeth -- then take your stained-glass heart to a designated park of facility, look for a sign with Rocky the Bear and hang your art on a tree.

Here is a list of where to hang your stained glass heart:

  • Mandeville Park
  • Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens
  • Saturn Park
  • Wantz Memorial Park
  • Washington Park Community Center
  • Williams Sports Field.

"It's going to help people smile," said Gibbs-Green. "It's going to help somebody get some exercise, take a walk, breathe some fresh air, maybe enjoy a part of a park that they haven't ever seen before."
"We Love Our Parks" runs through February but Winter Flurry lasts all winter long. Furthermore, there are a variety of parks in the Rockford Park District system. 

"Whether those are neighborhood parks or whether those are kind of some larger parks or more community-oriented parks, we have 105 different parks within the Rockford Park District that we maintain and take care of," Gibbs-Green said. "And are very proud to be able to bring that to the community and have the community to enjoy this variety of parks."

Visit their website to learn about all the parks and facilities within the Rockford Park District.