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Warren's Cold Rush Family Winter Festival

Ice sculptures and carving, putt-putt golf, a petting zoo, skating show, music and more family fun are part of this Macomb County event on Jan. 4, 2014

Snow or not, the one-day, once-a-year Warren's Cold Rush event delivers a fun-filled Saturday of activities and entertainment for southeast Michigan families! This frosty fest is back Jan. 4, 2014. And, best of all, virtually all of the activities running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. – including ice skating, ice-sculpture putt-putt golf and a petting zoo – are totally free!

A great way to kick off the new year, the "rush" is returning to Warren City Square, east of Van Dyke Avenue and a bit north of 12 Mile Road, for a sixth year. And plenty of wintry events are in store for parents and kids alike.

The day actually begins at 10 a.m. with the Warren Cold Rush Cold Run – the sole event with a cost. Day-of registration is $40 for a 5K and $15 for a one-mile fun run (kids are welcome to get involved in this one). Runners start in the square, trek through a neighborhood and return to the square on well-plowed streets, says Warren Parks & Rec director Henry Bowman.

Then, on to the free fun! The big outdoor activity is ice skating. From skate rental to rink time, there's no charge. Need a little help? Hit the ice between 12:30 and 2 p.m., when instructors are also gliding around, casually offering advise. "It's not necessarily a formal lesson," Bowman says. "You get the pointers you need to become a better skater." The rink is open till 10 p.m.

Ever play putt-putt golf in the winter? This is your chance. Kids can swing through ice sculptures to complete nine holes of play (11 a.m.-5 p.m.). The 2014 array of ice sculptures is actually the biggest yet, Bowman says. Ice carving action also happens all day long. Be sure to bring your camera to this year's two cool interactive creations, including "Cash Corral" by local Christian Financial Credit Union – featuring a herd of 10 icy animals – and "Cash Connection," a reindeer-drawn sleigh kids can actually sit in (again, all made of ice!).

Real critters will be chilling, too. A petting zoo sets up shop from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., complete with camels, kangaroos and a few surprise animals.

If you'd rather watch the action, catch the graceful figure skaters of ICES – aka International Center for Excellence in Skating, part of the Troy Sports Center – perform an entertaining show at 2 p.m. (it lasts about 30 to 45 minutes). It's bookended by two high-school bands featuring local Warren teens: Nine from the Universe (jazz-rock, around 1 p.m.) and Disabled Grace (classic rock, playing about 3 p.m.).

Did someone say free hot chocolate? Warm up for one hour only – to be determined, Bowman says – with a yummy treat for no charge. (After that, you'll still find hot chocolate and other treats for sale at nominal fees.)

Remember, most events run between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Admission is also free. Check out the Metro Parent listing to learn more about the 2014 Warren Cold Rush.

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