Winter offers a whole new way to play, and a plethora of adventures await you and your family in West Des Moines during the cold weather months.
The West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department offers several indoor activities, including recreational sports, dancing and acting. Several traditional outdoor activities, such as snowboarding, cross country skiing and ice fishing can also be enjoyed at some, if not all, of the parks maintained by the City of West Des Moines. For a complete listing, visit www.wdm.iowa.gov or call 222-3444.
“We offer many opportunities for citizens to stay active throughout the winter,” says Allison Ullestad, recreation coordinator for West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department. “Our Whippoorwill Children’s Theatre program is in its second full season and was born out of a summer camp that was very popular and needed to be expanded. The upcoming winter production will be ‘Into the Woods.’
“The Daddy Daughter Sweetheart Dance is a staple in our department’s program offerings. More than 500 girls and their father figures enjoy dancing, a catered meal, pictures and a give-away each year at the Val Air Ballroom.”
Ullestad says the newly renovated grand ballroom at the West Des Moines Community Center in Valley Junction will host a number of activities during the winter. The center, as well as the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge and Teen Center, are popular sites for winter activities.
“If we can continue to offer places and programs where people can interact with each other and the world around them in a healthy and recreational way, we are indeed doing our community a service,” she says.
Plus, don’t forget that the West Des Moines Library is more than just a resource for information and a place to check out books, DVDs and music. It also hosts a variety of programs for children and adults alike, including Family Storytime, Lego Club, Kids Read Club, visits from authors and an adult writer’s club. For a complete listing, visit www.wdmlibrary.org or call 222-3400.
In addition to recreational events sponsored by the city, youth sports in West Des Moines are available through a variety of organizations, including the West Des Moines Girls Softball, West Des Moines Youth Baseball, West Des Moines Soccer Club and others. For a comprehensive listing of a variety of youth sports information and links to websites, visit www.wdm.iowa.gov/youthsports.
Daddy Daughter Sweetheart Dance
Few events bond a father and daughter or provide more warm, fuzzy memories than the Daddy Daughter Sweetheart Dance held annually at the historic Val Air Ballroom. This year’s dance will be held Sunday, Feb. 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. The event is designed for fathers, or father figures, and their daughters to spend a memorable evening together that includes a child-friendly Italian meal, desserts and free prizes. A video DJ, Thunder and Lightning, will entertain the crowd with two huge video screens and family-friendly music. Photos will be available for a small fee. Each girl, age 4 through 11, will receive free prizes. Advance tickets are $18 and are available through TicketWeb. All phone and Internet sales end on Feb. 4. Afterwards, tickets will only be sold at the Val Air Ballroom or the Parks and Recreation office.
First Steps Dance Class
These classes are designed to introduce children to the fundamental skills of dance at a nominal cost and a minimal time commitment. Led by Josalynn Agnew, offerings include ballet and jazz for kids as young as 3 and 4 years old, as well as ballet, jazz and tap for kids ages 5 through 7 years old. Classes will be held Jan. 14 through Feb. 18 at the West Des Moines Community Center in Valley Junction. Times vary. Cost is $39 and includes a T-shirt. No special shoes are required. Visit Parks and Recreation to register.
Fun Time Story Time
The new Valley Community Center, 4444 Fuller Road, is hosting a new storytime event that is free to children of all ages each Wednesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. during the months of January and February. The event also includes extra playtime at its indoor play center. No registration required.
This early childhood program is designed to teach children ages 4 and 5 years old the fundamentals of Tae-Kwon-Do and Karate. It will focus on building self-respect, self-confidence, coordination and self-discipline. The first session will be held Jan. 7 through Feb. 22, and times vary at the West Des Moines Community Center. Fees are $25-$29. Visit Parks and Recreation to register.
A new sports program starting in 2014 offers kids the chance to learn the basics of basketball. Start Smart Basketball teaches children ages 3 through 5 the basic motor skills necessary to play organized basketball while they work one on one and spend quality time with their parents. It focuses on teaching children and parents alike skills in dribbling, ball handling, passing, catching, shooting, running and agility in a friendly environment. Practices are held Thursdays from Jan. 9 through Feb. 6 at Westridge Elementary School from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Cost is $60. Participants have the option to attend the Iowa Energy game on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. and perform during the halftime show. Tickets for the game are $8. Visit Parks and Recreation to register.
Teddy Bear Tea
Children (young and old) who love their teddy bears won’t want to miss this formal tea party that includes a brief program and a special guest. Lunch will be catered by Christiani’s, featuring their famous pasta and fancy finger foods. Don’t forget to bring your favorite teddy bear for this event slated for Saturday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge. Cost is $13 per person for those ages 4 and older. Register with Parks and Recreation by Jan. 27.
Tumble Tots is a beginning tumbling program for boys and girls, ages 3 and 4. It focuses on forward rolls, backward rolls and walking on a balance beam. Class size is limited to 15 participants. Classes will be held Thursdays on Jan. 16, 23 and 30, and Feb. 6 from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. at the West Des Moines Community Center. Cost is $29. Visit Parks and Recreation to register.
Has the acting bug bitten your child? Is he or she curious about what it takes to put on a theatrical show? The Whippoorwill Theatre provides a hands-on, individualized experience in theatre for West Des Moines children and young adults ages 8 through 16. Developed in conjunction with the West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Activities Program and in cooperation with Tallgrass Theatre, Whippoorwill Theatre provides a rich variety of one-act and full-length plays, musicals, improv and workshops for kids, teens and their families with an emphasis on exploring the classics and having fun. Each participant will have a featured role in a show (a play with songs or a musical) based on a classic for the Whippoorwill Children’s Theatre Winter Production as they learn audition skills, stage movement, voice, choreography and more. Participants meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 – 8 p.m., Jan. 7 through March 2, at Rex Mathes, 1401 Vine St. Cost is $125. To register, visit www.wdm.iowa.gov. For more information, call www.whippoorwilltheatre.com.
The West Des Moines Teen Center, 1401 Vine St., opened its doors in 2007 and offers a safe and recreational environment for students from Stilwell and Indian Hills junior high schools, as well as students from Valley Southwoods. The Teen Center features movie days, cooking classes, pool tournaments, guest speakers, sports, study time, leaderships games, computers, video games, dances and field trips. It follows the West Des Moines Community School District’s calendar and is not open when school is closed. It is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 2:30 to 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 1:50 to 6 p.m. Yearly registration fee is $50. Each student is allowed as many as three free visits to the Teen Center. Visit Parks and Recreation to register.
Too cold to swim? Not at the Valley High School Pool, which is open to families on Sundays from, 1 to 4 p.m., Jan. 25 through March 23. The cost is $2 per person, or free to West Des Moines senior citizens ages 55 and over.
Families can learn the basics of this Korean art of self-defense, which experts say also enhances health, balance, agility, poise, mental alertness and moral ethics. Beginner classes are for white through green belts. Intermediate and advanced classes are also offered for green belts and up. Beginner’s classes will be held Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m., Jan. 7 through Feb. 22, at the West Des Moines Community Center. Intermediate/advanced classes are offered at the same location Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. Fees are $41. Visit Parks and Recreation to register.
Have some fun while getting in shape during this 45-minute cardio class held in the shallow end of the Valley High School Pool. Classes will be held 7:30 – 8:15 p.m. on Jan. 7 through Feb. 13, followed by a second session from Feb. 18 to March 27. Fees are $35-$39. Visit West Des Moines Community Education for details.
Do you have two left feet? Or do you simply need a refresher course? Perhaps you’re more advanced, but would like to learn some new moves? No matter what your skill level might be, chances are one of the four ballroom dancing classes offered by Parks and Recreation will fit your needs. From Absolute Beginner Level I, to Level III Intermediate Ballroom, classes on how to step to the merengue, foxtrot, swing, waltz and rumba can be found from January through June at various times and days of the week. Fees are $55-$60.
Basketball Open Gym
Got game? Then head over to Westridge Elementary School for two open gym nights of hoops on Mondays (through March 3) and Saturdays (through March 1). Dates and times vary. Fees are $2 for West Des Moines residents and $3 for non-residents. Visit Parks and Recreation for details.
Co-ed Badminton Open Gym
A little birdie told us you can drop in for some badminton matches Sundays through May 25 from 2:30 – 5 p.m. at Valley Southwoods. Fees are $2 for West Des Moines residents and $3 for non-residents.