The Okoboji region of northwest Iowa shivers into such frigid temperatures in January, many consider hibernating throughout the winter. Isolation doesn’t warm the soul, however. For this reason, the University of Okoboji, a charitable group behind the fictional college of recreation, created the Winter Games.
“When I came to the 2012 Winter Games, I thought Okoboji was a frozen hellhole,” Taylor Wetzel of Pittsburgh admitted of her first visit to the weekend of events.
The moody winter weather in 2015 has caused variable ice conditions. Traditionally the broom ball tournament, beanbag tournament and snow softball tournament are all held on the icy surface of East Lake Okoboji. This year, however, chair Alison Schmitz says the uncertain ice conditions caused by December and January temperatures varying from 60 degrees to 28 below zero create a hazard. “The winter games are just that — games,” Schmitz said. “Safety is of utmost importance, always.”
The flag football tournament will still be held at the property of Parks Marina, but has also been moved off the ice in favor of playing in the Parks Marina outdoor mezzanine, which will be stocked with new snow.
The Okoboji police department also issues a reminder that Winter Games athletes and spectators should keep all vehicles off the ice around the State Pier as this is where the Polar Bear Plunge will take place at 3 pm Saturday, January 24 in Arnolds Park.