Content starts here
AARP AARP States South Dakota Livable Communities

Meet Our 2023 Winter Placemaking Grantees

Senior couple on sled having fun

AARP South Dakota announced that seven South Dakota organizations are the first-ever recipients of winter placemaking grants to support local efforts that activate outdoor public spaces during cold weather months using pop-up or temporary demonstrations.

The 2023 grantees are:

  • Clear Lake Healthy Hometowns – Clear Lake
  • Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. – Sioux Falls
  • Grand River Arts Council – Lemmon
  • Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation – Sioux Falls
  • Tuthill Highlands Neighborhood Association – Sioux Falls
  • Watertown Community Foundation - Watertown
  • Webster Area Chamber of Commerce - Webster

This grant program builds on the momentum created by the national AARP Community Challenge Grant program that has been in place since 2017, according to Lindsey Holmquest, AARP South Dakota Community Outreach Director.

“AARP South Dakota is committed to helping communities across the state become great places to live for people of all ages with an emphasis on people 50 and older,” says Holmquest. “Quick actions can be the critical spark for long-term progress in communities, and like the annual Community Challenge Grant program, that is what the winter placemaking grant is designed to support.”

Applicants were asked to submit ideas that enhance outdoor public spaces during the winter months with activities to engage and support healthy living and social connectivity for all, with a particular focus on age-friendly opportunities. In addition to the grant funding, AARP South Dakota will provide resources related to best practices in community engagement and promotional outreach, along with technical assistance as needed.

“South Dakota is lucky to have four distinct seasons, and there are great ways to bring people together even during the winter,” adds Holmquest. “We are excited to watch these communities get to work and engage residents in the activities they have planned for the winter months ahead.”

Here are the planned community projects:

Clear Lake Healthy Hometowns – Clear Lake
Healthy Hometowns in Clear Lake will develop a “Sled Lending Library” at a local sledding hill. The group will purchase sleds and supplies to build a rack to store the sleds at the hill. The purpose is to provide sleds for those who may not have one and to encourage people of all ages to come out and enjoy this fun winter activity.

Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. – Sioux Falls
Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc., will implement a pilot project using a “pop-up warming hut” that can be placed in various locations in the downtown area during shopping weekends. The intent is to provide an additional point of respite where community members and visitors alike can stop to warm up and socialize as they enjoy all the shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities available downtown.

Grand River Arts Council – Lemmon
The Grand River Arts Council in Lemmon will add a comfort tent and patio heaters for outdoor events, including their annual Winter Ephemeral Art Pop-Up and Placemakers Smoke and Ice Festival. Recognizing that cold weather can limit outdoor activity and can also impact residents’ mental health, the organization is focusing on ways to provide shelter and warmth while bringing community residents together for these events. In addition, the group will make the items available for other organizations to borrow for other outdoor placemaking activities.

Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation – Sioux Falls
To promote downtown Sioux Falls as a place to be this winter, Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation is partnering with the Washington Pavilion and Downtown Sioux Falls to host “Winter Weekends” at a currently unused mural space. This project will transform the space into a festive place for music, activities and socialization each weekend from November 24-December 17. Because the sun sets earlier during the winter months, this grant will support lighting displays to be used throughout these weekends as well as in future winter events.

Tuthill Highlands Neighborhood Association – Sioux Falls
Tuthill Highlands is a neighborhood association that is planning an outdoor winter social event in February at a neighborhood park. Activities will include outdoor games, ice skating, smores making and hot chocolate, and the association will cover the cost of all ice skate rentals and refreshments. They also partnered with the Game, Fish & Parks Outdoor Campus to borrow snowshoes for residents to try.

Watertown Community Foundation – Watertown
A group of Watertown volunteers came together to create Watertown Winterfest, a free community event designed to highlight winter activities that Watertown has to offer, such as ice fishing, ice skating, sledding and more. This grant will support the event, including the new-for-2024 Smores-making and Apple Cider Station. Events are strategically spread out throughout the community so regardless of where someone lives, an activity is nearby and easily accessible.

Webster Area Chamber of Commerce – Webster
Residents in Webster and surrounding communities will be treated to a new, all-day winter social event for all ages. Activities will include an outdoor scavenger hunt, horse wagon rides, a magician show and more. Plans are to hold the event in February, which is a time to provide a break after the busy holiday season but still in the middle of winter when there may not be many other social activities happening. The event will encourage people to come out for a day of fun and a little education on health and staying active in the community throughout the year.