Howard Park's Winter Open kicks off the 2021 Winter Season

NOW: Howard Park’s Winter Open kicks off the 2021 Winter Season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Howard Park's Winter Season officially kicked off Friday.

“The fire pits are fired up, the ice is frozen, people are out here just having a blast!” said Aaron Perri, Executive Director of Venues, Parks and Arts for the city of South Bend. 

The park offered a variety of activities for families coming out for the first day-- live music, crafts for kids and stories read by prominent members of the community, including South Bend Mayor James Mueller. 

Despite this being their third Winter Season, the 2021 Winter Open marks a first for Howard Park.

According to Perri “This is our first real, full season, because the pandemic hit in the Spring of 2020, we didn’t get a full season in. Last year was a little anomalous, so we’re excited to be back in full force this year, for the first time ever.”

And this year brinks another park first: Howard Park will host a holiday market.

“We do a lot of art fairs and festivals in the summer," said Perri, recalling the genesis of the idea. "Perhaps we can do one in the winter too!”

The market will offer craft goods and food from local artisans and vendors, like candle makers and homemade kettle corn, as well as live entertainment, and will be open every Friday through Sunday, up until Christmas.

But for many, the main attraction was the ice skating; hundreds of people of all skill levels, hitting the ice for that first, sweet day of skating-- some coming from out of town to enjoy it.

Lindsay Baxter and her two children, Nathan and Gemma, came up from St. Louis to visit an aunt living in South Bend, and took to the ice trail-- not letting the cold weather bother them.

“Even when it’s cold, it keeps you warm because you’re moving around the skating rink,” said Baxter.

And now with its third season in full swing, Perri says he's glad to see the park become a special place for visitors and residents alike. 

“People just flock to this park and it’s become this kind of community living room, which has been really special to see," he said "People, from whatever part of town you’re from—you come here and you find your place at Howard Park.”

Perri says that the park will also continue to host special events throughout the Winter Season-- more information can be found at

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