Mother Nature beginning to cooperate for Waukesha JanBoree

Snow, cold weather arrives just in time for annual winter festival

Jan. 17, 2012

Pat Grulke was beaming with joy.

She probably even cracked a few smiles.

"I was very, very happy," said Grulke, who serves as the City of Waukesha's recreation services manager in the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

Grulke's emotions were from what she was seeing out her office window Jan. 12. Snow flakes were finally falling and the green grass suddenly had a fresh white blanket.

She was thrilled by the wintry backdrop because the Waukesha JanBoree - which the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department hosts - was just a mere week away.

With temperatures well above average and with snow hardly making its presence felt this winter, it was looking more and more like the JanBoree was going to turn into a spring festival instead of a winter festival.

Shovels for golf bags

After all, people were trading in their shovels for golf bags as golf courses around the county were opening last week - an unusual scene in January.

But on Jan. 12, Mother Nature brought everyone back down to Earth with 5.5 inches of snow in the City of Waukesha and temperatures more normal for this time of year.

You won't find Grulke grumbling about that or by the fact that more snow came Waukesha's way on Tuesday along with frigid temperatures.

"We are very excited for the JanBoree, and we're now thrilled that snow has come to Wisconsin," Grulke said. "I think it will begin to make people think about winter festivals and the cold weather helps as well."

The weather also helps keep many of the 32 events on schedule.

Events such as the Recyclable Sled Derby that takes place on Friday at the Lowell Park sledding hill or the toboggan runs at Lowell on Friday and Saturday might have had to be canceled this year if not for some snow.

With or without snow

And the popular ice sculpting event that takes place in downtown Waukesha from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday would need some retooling if the artists were chiseling away in 50 degrees.

Even if this would happen (it's happened before), Grulke notes there is always a backup plan.

"There's always activities with or without snow that will go on," Grulke said. "We have to because we've had days where it's 50 degrees, we've had where it's almost 50 below with the wind chill, where we had 12 inches of snow on a Saturday or no snow."

As of Tuesday morning, one activity was postponed if temperatures didn't get colder throughout the week: ice skating at Lowell and Buchner Parks, as they need the ground to be completely frozen and a snow edging to flood the rinks. But as this week went on, it appeared JanBoree officials would get the well-below freezing temperatures and the additional snow they needed.

Some of the events that aren't weather dependent include the Rockstar Kiddyoke at Waukesha North High School and Family Fun Night at Waukesha's YMCA on Friday night and The Weird, Wacky, Wild World of Science! at the Waukesha County Museum, A.C.T. LIVE at the Waukesha Civic Theatre, the Waukesha Community Art Project at the WCA, arts and crafts at Schuetze Recreation Center, Indoor Ice Skating and Teen-Night Ice Skating at Eble Ice Arena in Brookfield and the JanBoree Jam at Waukesha South High School on Saturday.

Dance record

The three-day JanBoree kicks off on Friday with the city trying to break a state record of having the most people dance together at one time. The dance, choreographed to "Freeze Frame," will be televised on Today's TMJ4 at 6 p.m. from the Lowell Park Tennis Courts.

"Whether they know the dance or not, we want everyone to come out and we'll have an instructional before (5:15 p.m.)," Grulke said. "I think people will enjoy it and it will definitely keep people warm."

Also keeping people warm is the Frosty 5k run/walk that takes place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Frame Park. People can preregister at any Wisconsin Athletic Club or at

But it wouldn't be a JanBoree without the annual fireworks show at 8 p.m. Friday at Lowell Park.

This is the JanBoree's 27th year and Grulke, who has been with the Rec. Department for 16 years, has watched it evolve.

"It has grown over the years," Grulke said. "I remember way back, maybe there were 10 events and now we average more than 30. I think we have more community partners and it's a well-established, traditional event."

Part of this tradition will be missing, however. That's because this is the first year that Sue Harter won't be in charge of the event in some capacity.

Harter retired two weeks ago after 36 years as the department's recreation supervisor and the coordinator of the JanBoree.

"She definitely was a creative and extremely hard working individual who brought excitement and passion to her job and one of those things was the JanBoree," Grulke said. "She always put out a great program."

At a Glance

What: Waukesha JanBoree (Ice'Cape to JanBoree)

When: Friday through Sunday

Opening Ceremonies begin at 3 p.m. Friday

There are 32 events this year that take place at various locations in Waukesha except for two ( Eble Park Ice Arena in Brookfield and Naga-Waukee Park Ice Arena in Delafield); Other locations hosting JanBoree events include Frame Park & Rotary Building, Schuetze Recreation Center, Lowell Park, Downtown Waukesha, North High, Retzer Nature Center/Planetarium, Minooka Park, YMCA, Cutler Park, South High and HAWS.


Contact: Pat Grulke at (262) 524-3737

New Events

ROCKSTAR Kiddyoke-Kararoke for Kids with THE GOMERS - Shows at 6 to 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 to 8 p.m. at North High School Auditorium (2222 Michigan Ave.)

"Freeze Frame" - Dance broadcast live on Today's TMJ4 at 6 p.m. at Lowell Park (2201 Michigan Ave.)

Waukesha Community Art Project - Anytime from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (820 N. Grand Ave. in downtown Waukesha)

Cool your Paws at HAWS - 11:30 a.m. "K9 Cuisine with Dr. Claudeen" pet cooking class/demonstration (Preregister by calling (262) 542-8851) noon to 2:30 p.m. Dog Sled Ride, first come, first served

Indoor Ice Skating-TEEN NIGHT - Skating to DJ with music, competitions and prizes from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Eble Ice Arena in Brookfield.


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