By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
---- — CLINTON — Parents are breathing a sigh of relief today as students head back to school after being out for nearly three weeks because of winter vacation and weather-related school cancellations.
During the usual two-week, winter break, students are oftentimes busy with family interactions and holiday celebrations, but after some of the splendor wears off, feeling a little bit of cabin fever is a common occurrence.
Couple that with unfavorable weather conditions that prevented prolonged outdoor play, and some parents may have found it difficult to find ways to entertain their young ones.
But many local parents took advantage of the indoor entertainment offerings in Clinton like the Plaza Bowl bowling alley, the Ericksen Community Center and the Clinton 8 Movie Theatre to make this year's winter break an active one.
"We are always busy this time of year," YWCA executive director Shannon Sander-Welzien said. "We've seen a huge increase in day pass and family day pass use and amazingly we're seeing many families coming in to swim."
To take advantage of the busy two-week span, recreation department director Gregg Obren strategically refrained from offering regular programming at the Ericksen Center to make room for the hoards of children that would quickly fill the recreation center.
"During breaks we specifically try not to schedule routine and regular programming so that we leave especially the gyms and pool hall open," Obren said. "It's been our standard for decades to prepare for that time span and we actually add additional supervision to keep kids at a dull roar."
Plaza Bowl owner and operator Doug Pennock also gave himself a little preparation prior to the holiday break, offering daytime bowling at only $2 per game.
The weekly special runs throughout the year but is typically postponed during the holidays. However, this year Pennock thought it would be a good decision to keep the offer available through the winter break.
"Through the holidays a lot of places will change their prices and say that holidays are excluded," Pennock said. "But, we decided to keep the $2 rate, just to encourage people to come here during that time."
Another way families and children had to enjoy some time away from home was at the Clinton 8 Theatre.
Even though the theater didn't offer any special promotions during the time off from school, Clinton 8 Theatre manager Trevor Kerns said he saw a major increase in movie-going during the last two weeks of December.
"I kind of prepare for it and kind of expect it, especially if relatives come and stay in Clinton," Kerns said. "I think both what's showing and just a chance to get out and go to the movies is why it gets so busy during that time. And I think since we have a wide range of movies right now that really helped us."
One indoor activity center didn't quite get the attention it was hoping for over the school break, but staff at the Clinton Public Library know that with spring not too far in the distance, their time will come.
"Our storytime numbers tend to drop during the holidays, probably due to the weather, as well as shopping for Christmas," children's librarian Tammy Bird said. "I know there was a lot of programs and events in the community and we understand that (people) are busy and they probably don't want to go out in the nasty weather. (Plus) it's more the spring breaks and the summer breaks that we see an increase in activity."