North Liberty getting ready to Beat the Bitter

Registration open for winter celebration events

Competitors climb over a wall during the 2017 North Liberty Beat the Bitter 5k-ish obstacle run. The 2018 Beat the Bitter festival takes place Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, with most events at Penn Meadows Park in North Liberty. (City of North Liberty Photo)
Competitors climb over a wall during the 2017 North Liberty Beat the Bitter 5k-ish obstacle run. The 2018 Beat the Bitter festival takes place Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, with most events at Penn Meadows Park in North Liberty. (City of North Liberty Photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — It started with a handful of people, but North Liberty’s Beat the Bitter winter activities have, well, snowballed.

“It started with a few residents talking about how Iowans are bad at winter,” said Jillian Miller, North Liberty’s community engagement coordinator. “They said other people go out and enjoy winter, but we hibernate and wait for it to be over.”

To combat that, the city worked with residents of the Johnson County community to create Beat the Bitter, which is now organized by the nonprofit North Liberty Betterment Group. Registration for events is underway at BeatTheBitter.com.

The festival has grown from just one day to a weeklong celebration of winter. The core of the celebration takes place Jan. 28 through Feb. 3 with more than 50 wintertime activities planned, including the North Liberty Police Department’s Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge on Jan. 28, a cozy social hour at the North Liberty Community Library on Jan. 29, a teen improvisation event at the library on Jan. 30, the We Run Scavenger Hunt on Jan. 31, snow volleyball at J&A Tap on Feb. 1, ice carving and a community bonfire at Penn Meadows Park on Feb. 2, and a Boy Scout Troop 216 chili supper at the North Liberty Recreation Center on Feb. 3.

A full list of activities can be found on the event website.


Beat the Bitter 2018 from City of North Liberty on Vimeo.

Friday, Feb. 2, has been dubbed “Fire & Ice Friday,” with a handful of events on tap at Penn Meadows Park, including horse-drawn carriage rides, an Iowa Birds of Prey show, fire baton performances, tug-of-war competitions and a 7 p.m. fireworks show.

“In February, you don’t have to stay up until 9 or 10 o’clock to watch fireworks, so that’s popular with our young families,” Miller said.

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Saturday, Feb. 3, features the Beat the Bitter Winter Games, including the 5K-ish Obstacle Run, Freeze Your Bags Off cornhole tournament, Kick Winter in the Snow Ball kickball tournament and curling and broomball tournaments on the new 100-by-115-foot outdoor ice rink being installed on top of the Penn Meadows Park tennis courts “as soon as it’s cold enough,” Miller said.

Registration is required for all of these tournaments and in some cases participation is limited, Miller said. Registration also is required for several other events taking place during the celebration. Check the website for more information on those events.

The ice rink also means public ice skating will be offered from Dec. 11 through March 31, weather permitting. Skating hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and some ice skates are available for checkout at the recreation center, 520 W. Cherry St., between 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Skates may be rented with a $5 cash-only, refundable deposit per pair for up to two hours. The rink has lights that can be turned on by placing quarters in the on-site light meters.

Beat the Bitter organizers also are seeking volunteers to help run the events. Those interested in volunteering should send an email to beatthebitternl@gmail.com.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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