Central Oregon boasts several New Years Eve activities to kick-off your year with a healthy start

by: KEVIN SPERL - On New Year's Day, Smith Rock State Park will offer two, free, 90-minute guided hikes on the Rim Rock Trail.

The New Year is a time for making resolutions, including the ever-popular pledge to lose weight and get in better shape.

Crook County residents can get a great start on those pledges by attending the Prineville Park and Recreation’s New Year’s Eve roller skate party, and Oregon State Park’s First Day Hike activities, both providing an easy, healthy start to the New Year.

New Year’s Eve Roller Skating Party

The Prineville Park and Recreation Department rings in the New Year with its annual New Year’s Eve roller skate party at the Crook County Skating Rink, located in the gymnasium of Crooked River Elementary School, at 200 N.E. Fairview.

Business Manager Jeannie Searcy has organized the skate for the past 25 years, and is prepared to welcome up to 140 skaters to the event.

“The kids come simply to skate,” said Searcy. “We will provide skates, some food, cookies, and juice for them to enjoy. And, for the first time, pizza will be available for purchase,” she added.

Those in attendance typically range in age from 9 through 14, but kids of all ages are welcome, although those under 7 must be accompanied by an older family member or adult.

“Parents are encouraged to stay at no cost as well, if they don’t skate,” offered Searcy, “otherwise we ask that they pay.”

Searcy promised skaters they would be entertained with music, extra lights, and raffles throughout the evening and, if all goes as planned, a mirrored ball rotating overhead.

At 11:30 p.m., favors, party hats, and noise makers will be handed out and, if the kids want to, the skates will come off and the dancing will begin.

“The kids will vote on what they want to do at that time,” explained Searcy.

Searcy encourages those planning to attend, to purchase tickets at the Park and Recreation office, located at 296 S. Main St., during regular office hours, and up to 3 p.m. on New Years Eve.

“Tickets are $6 in advance and $8 at the door,” she said. “Those who purchase tickets at our office will get a wristband to avoid standing in line at the party.”

The skate takes place Tuesday night, Dec. 31, starting at 7 p.m. and ends at 12:30 a.m.

Smith Rock State Park First Day Hike

New Year’s Day organized hikes in state parks originated in Massachusetts, more than 20 years ago, and has since spread to all 50 states.

Oregon State Parks joins the fun, offering programs throughout the state including Smith Rock State Park, in Terrebonne.

Smith Rock is offering two guided, one-mile, 90-minute, walking tours, on Wednesday, Jan. 1. The first begins at 10:30 a.m. and the second heads out at 1:30 p.m.

The walk follows the Rim Rock Trail, and participants may be lucky enough to sight a bald eagle and most certainly, depending on weather, rock climbers scaling the walls of the canyon. The walk is mostly flat, with minimal elevation change, and is on compacted gravel.

Current weather forecasts should guarantee a snow-free trail, but visitors are encouraged to check the weather before heading out.

Hot cider and hot chocolate await the hikers in the welcome center, where the hikes begin and end. The newly dedicated center, a 30-foot diameter yurt, is located on Northeast Crooked River Drive, 20 miles east of Prineville via Highway 370.

As an added bonus, the usual $5 day-use parking fee is being waived.

For Prineville's Roller Skate party, purchase tickets in advance for $6 at the CCPRD office, located at 296 S. Main St. Price at the door is $8. Call 541-447-1209 for more information.

For Smith Rock's First Day Hike, meet at the welcome center on Northeast Crooked River Drive, in Terrebonne. Hikes begin at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Call 541-548-7501 for more information or visit .

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