Waukesha JanBoree has Olympic theme this year

C.T. Kruger
Waukesha County’s Recycle Raccoon helps frame up photos of skaters gliding by as it joined families at Eble Park in Brookfield for skating during the Waukesha JanBoree last year. Free ice skating is from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Eble Park, 19400 W. Bluemound Road.
Published on: 1/14/2014

It won't be Sochi, Russia, but Waukesha may resemble Olympic Village this weekend.

With the theme, "Let The Games Begin," the Waukesha JanBoree, the area's annual winter festival sponsored by the city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, returns for the 29th year.

"The theme generated a lot of new activities that we're excited about," said Pat Grulke, recreation services manager.

She's most excited about opening night when many "Olympic" activities will be available at Lowell Park in Waukesha.

From 3 to 8 p.m. Grulke said the toboggan runs or "bobsledding" will be featured, there will be curling, luge and an ice-sculpting demo where world-class ice carvers will transform a 1,000-pound block of ice into an Olympic torch.

Grulke said it was 45 degrees last year for the Friday evening ice sculpting event.

"It was melting as fast as the sculpture was built," Grulke remembered.

Should be cold

But with below-freezing temperatures expected throughout the weekend, Grulke said "we shouldn't have that problem again."

"It should be cold enough," Grulke said. "And we should have snow as we were supposed to get some fresh snow this week, so that should be great."

Grulke said there is currently enough snow for the toboggan runs at Lowell Park, but if the weather somehow wouldn't cooperate, Grulke said updates will be given on the event's website, janboree.org.

A list of all the activities (35) is available on the website.

"The website is the best way to plan for the weekend and it's where you can schedule the events you want to go to at any of our locations," Grulke said.

Weekend of events

After Friday's opening night, which also includes a fireworks show at Lowell Park and an Olympic showcase event at Waukesha North High School, Saturday's agenda continues with more Olympic-themed events.

The Waukesha County Museum has many Olympic-themed events throughout the day, the Frosty 5K Olympian Run/Walk is from 1 to 3 p.m. at Frame Park with prizes being awarded for the most creative Olympic-themed costume.

Grulke said last year there were a record number of runners.

Ice sculpting, which will feature about 25 sculptors, will also take place Saturday afternoon in downtown Waukesha.

Many indoor events are also available on Saturday. These include activities at the Waukesha YMCA (obstacle courses), the Elks Lodge (bocce ball, country music), the Eble Ice Arena in Brookfield (ice skating), the Waukesha Public Library (Comedy Sportz shows), the Waukesha Civic Theatre (one-hour shows) and more.

The weekend concludes with a few outdoor events, such as a cross-country ski race Sunday at Minooka County Park, an ice fishing clinic there in the beach area and ice bowling at Lowell Park.

And it's fitting that the JanBoree ends with the movie, "Miracle," (showing the 1980 USA gold-medal winning team) at 1:30 p.m. at the Schuetze Recreation Center.

Staying active in winter

Getting outside, though, is Grulke's favorite part of the JanBoree.

"I end up at most of them, but any of the outdoor events I prefer," Grulke said. "That's what the JanBoree is all about — being outside in the winter and enjoying the snow and getting active."

Grulke is proud of this year's program — one that the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department and the JanBoree committee is rolling out in advance of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

"I think it's an excellent theme and an outstanding lineup," said Grulke, who explained the planning, with its community partners, has taken place over the last 12 months. "There's a lot of variety for all ages, indoor and outdoor. We encourage people to take in as many activities as possible."

Over the last 29 years, the amount of activities has grown.

A key to its success, Grulke said, is that the three-day festival is across the City of Waukesha and also includes Delafield and Brookfield for indoor ice skating and gives people many opportunities to participate.

"Sponsors have grown and it has helped the event grow," Grulke said. "The community helps plan for it, so it's really a community-wide event."

Almost turning 30

With the Waukesha JanBoree's 30th anniversary just a year away, Grulke and her staff are already preparing for 2015.

"Thirty years for a city festival is quite remarkable," Grulke said. "Typically, events run their course, but we've kept it fresh, which has really made it successful.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to pull off something spectacular for the 30th."

In the meantime, Grulke had one final message to the community for 2014.

"Let the games begin."

At a glance

What: Waukesha JanBoree

Date: Friday through Sunday at sites in Waukesha, Brookfield and Delafield; Opening ceremonies from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday at Lowell Park, 2201 Michigan Ave.

Contact: For information about JanBoree events call (262) 524-3737; During the weekend for up-to-date information call (262) 522-9356

E-mail: Send questions to JanBoree@ci.waukesha.wi.us

Website: www.janboree.org