"Kicksledding and Winter Pond Exploration," part of Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center's Natural Challenges Series, will be offered from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the center at 12805 St. Croix Trail S. in Hastings.
Participants will get a chance to explore pond life and try kicksledding on the frozen pond. Blankets will be available to bundle up the little ones in the kicksled while the older folks try their hand at sledding across the pond. Warm up afterward with some hot chocolate by the fireplace.
Susan Amundson, author of "Hero Finds His Path," will read the story about her Samoyed puppy, and Charlie Johnson, author of "Emmy of Whistling Well Farm," will read his book about his dog Emmy helping out at the apple orchard. Books will be available for purchase, and both authors will be available for book signing in the Visitor Center.
Call the nature office at 651-437-4359 to reserve a spot. Program fee is $6 per person per program or $4 for Friends of CNC and children under 10, or a $20 maximum per family.
Snowshoe lessons will be offered throughout the winter to Washington County Park visitors at Lake Elmo Park Reserve. Instructors from the Warner Nature Center will be on hand to help participants trek through the snow.
The snowshoe program is designed to help people experience nature and enjoy the outdoors during the winter months. Participants will learn the basics of snowshoeing.
Snowshoe lesson dates and times are: Saturday from 1 to 2:15 p.m. and 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.; Sundays Jan. 6, Jan. 13, Jan. 20, Feb. 3 and Feb. 24 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. Warner Nature Center will provide snowshoes. Participants should dress for the weather.
The fee is $5 per person, and participants must be in third grade or older. Limited snowshoes available; call the Lake Elmo Park Reserve contact station to pre-register for the program.
Lake Elmo Park Reserve is located at the intersection of County Road 19 and County Road 10, one mile north of Interstate 94 in Lake Elmo. The program will be held at the old ski shack.
Call 651-430-8370 or visit www.co. washington. mn.us/parks for more information and a schedule of additional programs. Park vehicle permits are required on all vehicles; they cost $5 per day or are $25 for an annual pass.
Come ring in the new year at the annual family New Year's Eve party from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 31 at Bielenberg Sports Center, 4125 Radio Drive in Woodbury.
The celebration will feature moonwalks, slides, an obstacle course, mini-golf, bingo, open ice skating, a Woodbury Skating Club exhibition, music and more.
Admission is $10 at the door. For more information, call 651-714-3583.
Lakeshore Players Theatre is holding auditions for its upcoming production of "The Odd Couple" directed by Louise Rau.
The auditions are from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 5, or 7-9:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7, at the White Bear Lake School District Office, Room 206, 4855 Bloom Av. in White Bear Lake.
Bring a head shot and résumé if available and your calendar so you can check for any rehearsal/performance conflicts. Rehearsals run from Jan. 17 through Feb. 27.
Camping and picnic shelter reservations at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St. Croix Regional Bluffs Park for 2013 will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
The phones at both parks -- Lake Elmo at 651-430-8370 and St. Croix Bluffs at 651-430-8240 -- will not be answered until 11 a.m., when online booking also begins.
Afton State Park, 6959 Peller Av. S. in Hastings, will mark New Year's Day with a First Day Hike from 1-2:30 p.m.
New Year's is about new resolutions and intentions, so join the park naturalist and the director of Minnesota state parks for this "new intentions" walk to find one thing that inspires, intrigues or increases your awareness on this first day of the new year.
For more information, call 651-436-5391.
Jim Anderson and Kevin Giles