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Special Events


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Des Moines Parks and Recreation provides a variety of special events that allow community members to participate in safe and organized leisure activities in an outdoor setting, recreation center or other locations throughout Des Moines. Most of these events have a minimal cost or are free.

 

Take a peek at the events below and discover ways to get involved! 
Can't seem to find what you're looking for? Email events@dmgov.org.

Special Events

Letters to Santa - Dec. 1 - 11, 2020
Santa and his elves are ready to write hundreds of letters this year! There are two ways to let Santa Claus know you've been good this year through Des Moines Parks and Recreation. 

OPTION 1
Have your child write a letter to Santa and drop it in one of the North Pole mailboxes at our community recreation centers! The mailboxes will be available from December 1-11, 2020 during normal operating hours (Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.). 

  • Fourmile Community Recreation Center: 3711 Easton Blvd, Des Moines, IA 50317
  • Pioneer Columbus Community Recreation Center: 2100 SE 5th Street, Des Moines, IA 50315
Santa Letter

OPTION 2
Santa and his elves are also available online. Fill out this form with accurate information about your child(ren) and press "Submit" to complete. Please complete one form per child. Submit the form by December 11, 2020 at 8 p.m.

Letters to Santa Online Form

Toys for Tots - November and December
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Des Moines Parks and Recreation has partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps this holiday season. Ensure that your children have a holiday they'll never forget by signing up for Toys for Tots!

If you would like to register your child(ren) - ages 0-14 - call one of our community recreation centers during normal operating hours to sign up to receive toys this holiday season. Please note you can only sign up for one toy distribution site. 

Click here for the Des Moines Toys for Tots Frequently Asked Questions page. 

Locations:
  • Fourmile Community Recreation Center
    • Address: 3711 Easton Blvd, Des Moines, IA 50317
    • Phone: 515-248-6315
  • Pioneer Columbus Community Recreation Center
    • Address: 2100 SE 5th Street, Des Moines, IA 50315
    • Phone: 515-248-6316
Sign Up/Registration Dates and Times:
  • Monday, November 2 - Tuesday, December 1, 2020
  • Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Gift Pick Up:
  • Monday, December 14 - Wednesday, December 16, 2020
  • 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. (normal operating hours)
  • At the location you signed up
Jingle Bell Stroll - Canceled

Out of an abundance of caution for our participants, volunteers and staff, we have canceled our upcoming Jingle Bell Stroll at Gray’s Lake Park. While it disappoints us, we look forward to bringing this brand-new event back in 2021.  Since we can’t get together on December 5, we wanted to offer a few ways to get into the holiday spirit.

LETTERS TO SANTA
Click on the Letters to Santa tab for the details on the two options! 

Have your child write a letter to Santa and drop it in one of the North Pole mailboxes at our community recreation centers! The mailboxes will be available from December 1–11, 2020 during normal operating hours (Monday - Friday, 8 a.m.–8 p.m.). 

OR

Santa and his elves are also available online. Fill out this form with accurate information about your child (ren) and press “Submit” when complete. Please complete one form per child. Submit the form by December 11, 2020 at 8 p.m. Letters to Santa Online Form.  

TOYS FOR TOTS
Click on the Toys for Tots tab for details! 

If you would like to register your child(ren) - ages 0-14 - call one of our community recreation centers during normal operating hours to sign up to receive toys this holiday season. Registration continues through December 1, 2020. 

COMING SOON
  • Winter Bingo
  • Video Message from Santa 
Father Daughter Dance - Canceled

Because of continued concerns with COVID-19 and in our continued effort to keep patrons and staff safe, Des Moines Parks and Recreation has canceled the 2021 Father Daughter Dance. Our team is exploring family event options for later in the spring. Watch for updates!

Mother Son Fun Night - Canceled

Because of continued concerns with COVID-19 and in our continued effort to keep patrons and staff safe, Des Moines Parks and Recreation has canceled the 2021 Mother Son Fun Night. Our team is exploring family event options for later in the spring. Watch for updates!

Mayor's Annual Ride and Run - April 17, 2021
Save the date for April 17, 2021. Watch for updates!
Free Flicks

In accordance with Mayor Cownie’s proclamation, guidance announced by the Centers for Disease Control, and in our continued effort to keep patrons and staff safe, Des Moines Parks and Recreation has canceled Free Flicks for 2020. We appreciate your patience and cooperation.

31 Miles Your Way - July
Date and Location:
  • July 1 - 31, 2020: Fitness can be done in your neighborhood, on the trails, at the gym, in the pool, etc. 
Time: 24 hours
Cost: $10 per person
Who: Ages 5 & up

It is easy to participate and we are willing to bet you'll love how easy it is to accomplish. We invite you to complete 31 miles your way in 31 days! Staying inside is not easy so this virtual event is to keep you inspired, healthy and motivated from a safe social distance. All you have to do is register, complete 31 miles your way, and track it! You can walk, run, bike, swim, stroll, sprint or crawl your way to victory.

Thank you for participating!
Free Flicks: Drive-In Edition
Dates, Locations & Movies:
  • ONWARD - July 23, 2020: Cownie Soccer Complex: 2600 Hartford Avenue
  • THE LORAX - July 30, 2020: Birdland Swimming Pool: 300 E Holcomb Avenue
  • MOANA - August 6, 2020: Nahas Family Aquatic Center: 1101 Porter Avenue
  • UP - August 13, 2020: Teachout Family Aquatic Center: 2601 Hubbell Avenue
Time: Access to the event begins at 8 p.m.
Movie Start Time: Dusk (approximately 9 p.m.)
Cost: Free (vehicle registration required)
Who: All ages (movies are rated PG)

Free Flicks: Drive-In Edition allows us to gather safely and enjoy a film this summer season! Admission is free per vehicle, but with limited parking spots, we ask that you claim your spot by registering. 

With social distancing guidelines still in place, here are the rules we ask you to follow:
- Please stay in and around your vehicle for the duration of the event;
- If you choose to leave your vehicle, we encourage you to wear a mask/face covering and practice social distancing; 
- No campers or RVS will be permitted; 
- Vans, trucks and SUVs will be asked to park toward the back so as not to block the view of other moviegoers;
- No alcohol or drugs allowed;
- No animals allowed (with the exception of service animals);
- You are allowed to bring snacks - no outside food delivery will be permitted.

Thank you for joining us for these films!
Bike Back to School - Youth Bike Giveaway
For the safety of our community, we will not be hosting Bike Back to School in 2020. However, as an alternative option we will offer a Youth Bike Giveaway, which will provides low-income children and families a way to obtain active transportation.  Bike Back to School - Youth Bike Giveaway is presented in partnership by the Des Moines Street Collective, Des Moines Police Department and Des Moines Parks and Recreation. 

The 2020 Youth Bike Giveaway application has closed. Thank you!

A big thanks to Blank Children's Hospital for donating the helmets to Bike Back to School - Youth Bike Giveaway. To donate a bike or to learn more, visit the Des Moines Street Collective.


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Fall Family Fun Ride
Date: Saturday, September 26, 2020
Location: Captain Roy's -1900 Saylor Road
Who: All ages and abilities

Packet Pick-Up Times: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
Registration Fee: $10 per rider
Virtual Registration Fee: $12 per rider*
*$2 increase from regular registration to cover shipping fees.

Join Des Moines Parks and Recreation on Sept. 26 or virtually for a 10-mile bike ride! Registration includes a bike route (DSM trails), a family-friendly scavenger hunt that pairs with the bike route, and a jack-o-lantern buff.  The 10-mile ride has a family-friendly scavenger hunt that is included with registration, where you are challenged to find city amenities along the route based on photos and riddles. 

Thank you for participating!
Yoga from the Park - Saturday Mornings in June - September
For the 2020 Yoga from the Park playlist, visit Yoga in the Park!

Thank you for joining us virtually this season!

To keep our community safe, we brought yoga to you in 2020! Enjoy past yoga practices from Gray's Lake Park on Facebook and YouTube. These virtual classes, taught by volunteer instructors from around the metro, are perfect for all skill levels, from curious beginner to advanced yogi.  

No registration required.

Nature Trail Running Series - Wednesdays in September
Dates and Locations:
Wednesday, Sept. 2
Greenwood/Ashworth Park
Address: 102 45th St, Des Moines, IA 50320

Wednesday, Sept. 9
Ewing Park
Address: 5300 Indianola Ave, Des Moines, IA 50315

Wednesday, Sept. 16
Grandview Park
Address: 3230 Easton Blvd, Des Moines, IA 50317

Wednesday, Sept. 23
Greenwood/Ashworth Park
Address: 102 45th St, Des Moines, IA 50320

Wednesday, Sept. 30
Ashby Park
Address: 3200 38th St, Des Moines, IA 50310

Time: 6 p.m.
Cost: Free

Runners of all levels explore nature trails in our park system, guided by volunteers from Fleet Feet Sports and Capital Striders. Each Wednesday in September at 6 p.m., participants are invited to join the three or six mile guided runs. In the event trail conditions are not ideal, runs will be on paved surfaces.
Bark Before Dark Halloween Pawty
Date and Location (click on the dog park below to register for that specific pawty):
Time: 4:30 - 6 p.m.
Cost: $5 per dog
Who: City of Des Moines dog park permit holders

City of Des Moines dog park permit holders are invited to the Bark Before Dark Halloween Pawty! Each registered dog will receive a goodie bag and the opportunity to run about the park with different Halloween activities. All registered dogs will be entered in to the costume contest to win a free 2021 Dog Park Permit.

Annual permit is required to be worn by dog handlers and visible at all times inside the facility. You will be asked to show your permit when you enter the dog park. All dog park rules apply for this event. When you purchase or renew your animal license, you do have the option to purchase a Dog Park Permit. To find out  more, visit Animal Licensing.

We ask that no more than two handlers per dog are present at the event for social distancing purposes. We ask that handlers wear proper face coverings recommended by the CDC. Children under the age of 10 are not allowed within the facility and those ages 10 to 15 must be accompanied by a person age 18 or older.

Costume contest categories include:

  • Best Large Dog Costume
  • Best Small Dog Costume
  • Best Owner/Dog Costume Combo
  • Best Trick for a Treat

The dog park will be open to dog park permit holders, but the activities will be for those who register prior to event day. You may register for multiple pawties, but a dog is only eligible to win the costume contest once.

Thank you for participating!