Arts, community and music in the area: Holiday recreation

So Christmas has finally arrived, and few venues will be open to the public as proprietors, entertainers and events coordinators will be spending the 24th and 25th with their friends and families…most of them, at least. There are still a few cheerful people who are determined to provide the entertainment for the post-festivity weary. There are also a small number of events before and after Christmas Eve and Day, so take advantage of what Rockford has to offer in the holiday spirit.

The Christmas Lights at Sinnissippi Park will, as always, be on display through the end of December. Lights go out at 10 p.m. usually, but, on Christmas Eve, they will be on all night. Make the drive through the brightly lit park a part of your family’s holiday tradition, and look for updates on the annual ice sculpture show that normally occurs (weather permitting) sometime in January.

Another entertaining provision of the Rockford area (for FREE!) is the ice skating at the Sinnissippi Park Pond. It’s always open during park hours which, I think, is all the time. It would make a romantic date for a couple on Christmas Eve or a nice family tradition to skate in the cold night with the view of the Sinnissippi lights across the street. Just bring your skates and a warm coat.

At the Byron Forest Preserve in the Jarret Prairie Center, 7993 N. River Rd., Byron, a Warming Hut and Sled Hill offers wholesome winter recreation. Sledding on the hill behind the Jarret Center is free. Cross-country skis and sleds are available for rental, and the warming hut provides hot drinks and snacks. The hill is open for sledding on weekends and other no-school days on Saturdays, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sundays, from 1-4 p.m. and holidays/snow days, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Another location for sledding and snow-boarding is Aldeen Park on North Alpine Road. Various hills of different steepness and length are available. The biggest is the “Graffiti Hill,” with the cement wall on the rise side with all the “street art” and legal graffiti. Sledders are forbidden to go down one side of it—the side that leads to small trees, brambles and a creek bed at the bottom, so be warned. It is a “Sled at your own risk” area. Park hours are posted on the sign facing North Alpine.

For the downtown scene, Kryptonite will be open for Christmas Eve and Christmas. Both Bacchus and The Irish Rose will be open, bar only, from 6 p.m. until bar close for Christmas. Most restaurants around town will be closed both days, though, and there is little music in the area. Octane InterLounge will be open for lunch only until around 3:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, but will be closed on Christmas. I haven’t gotten the hours for Paragon on West State, but you can call 963-1660 for information.

Bacchus’ Pub Quiz every Monday night will not be canceled for the holidays, so mark Dec. 23 on the calendar. It’s only $5 per person to participate, and groups may consist of up to four people. Test yourself for brainless trivia, or at least take advantage of the pub’s extensive wine list and cocktail menu while watching others if the game doesn’t appeal to you. The questions are fairly intensive, though; Pub Quiz is not Trivial Pursuit, so come prepared. For information, call 968-9463.

For M-POWs (Metro Picks Of the Week), Harmony Riley will actually play at 9 p.m. Christmas night at L.T.’s. These are rising stars in the music community who aren’t always around as they keep moving on to bigger and better things; so if your family deserts you on Christmas, celebrate at L.T.’s. For cover charge and information, call 394-1098. Jack Straw and Seed will perform at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 27, at Kryptonite. The Seed Band speaks for itself in the community and has built a reputation over the last many years as one of the more progressive and ever-changing groups in the area. They’re a lot a different now than they were even one year ago, and few of the original members are still in Seed. The cover is $5. For information, call 965-0931.

As a last note, admittance buttons are on sale now for First Night of Rockford, Rockford Area Arts Council’s New Year’s celebration hosted by downtown establishments. The buttons cost $7 until Dec. 26, when, and after, they will cost $9. The First Night buttons are available at all Alpine Bank, AMCORE Bank, and Bank One locations, Bob’s Ace Hardware, Discovery Center, Eagle Foods, Hilander Foods, Logli video departments, MetroCentre Box Office, National City Banks, New American Theater, Riverview Ice House, Rockford Area Arts Council, Rockford Area Association of Realtors, Rockford Art Museum Gift Shop, and Zavius Jewelers. Save $2 and get the buttons early!

Take advantage of all the activities in the area, and have a merry Christmas from The Rock River Times.

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