Aug 05

What a Celebration in Owatonna!

Posted on August 5, 2021 at 1:31 PM by Timothy O'Connor

This past week Owatonna got to celebrate the culmination of a grass roots project started more than five years ago by moms Missy Ahrens and Amanda Gislason, they had a dream.  They worked tirelessly for We All Play!  And now, their children Miley and Gunnar, played alongside hundreds of others and enjoyed the Grand Opening of the city’s first inclusive playground and Miracle Field baseball field.

I am borrowing parts of Missy’s speech (with her permission) to explain how important of a project and just how big of a deal this really is.  

How is this project different?  It changes lives.   Not a lot of people had heard of an inclusive playground at the start.   Inclusion, no barriers, all abilities, accessibility and intergenerational were some of the words they used to help people understand why this was such a need in our community.   Every child deserves the opportunity to play, and just as important, every parent and grandparent should have the opportunity to be able to play with their children and grandchildren.

Missy challenged each and everyone in the crowd of over 500 to find ways to build in inclusion in their lives, in our community and within our school system.  Say “hi”, extend the invitation, presume competence, celebrate differences, be conscious of the visible and invisible barriers and ask how do I remove them.  Be intentional in planning, get creative and speak up!  Monday was that first step toward an inclusive community!

We.  All.  Play.   Three simple words.  Two amazing kids.  Huge community support.  One pretty awesome park!

How can we best understand what inclusion can look like?  Enjoy the pictures of our community, together.

Aug 05

Our Parks are Getting Even Better!

Posted on August 5, 2021 at 1:29 PM by Timothy O'Connor

The Parks Department has certainly had a busy year!  Last week’s article showcased We All Play’s project at Manthey Park and the Grand Opening of The Miracle Field and Inclusive Playground.  Now it’s time to showcase a couple other projects happening and one coming in 2022.

Hopefully you had the chance to enjoy GEM Days last week and the opportunity to stroll by the Central Park Fountain.  Thanks to a grant from the Owatonna Foundation, the fountain received a long-overdue facelift and a few repairs.  The spray ring is now fully functioning at capacity, the color is vibrant and the bird is once again happily spouting water!  There are still a few items to finish, but soon you will see the upper bowl filling and spilling and some new plaques on the border.   A new drinking fountain is being installed nearby and is ADA accessible and doggie-accessible!  Thank you to the Owatonna Foundation for partnering in this project to bring the fountain back to the beautiful landmark it is!

Exciting news at Lake Kohlmier!  Just last week we announced we are one of Lowe’s #100HOMETOWNS projects.  The playground at Lake Kohlmier, the oldest in our system, will be replaced this fall!  The Lowe’s 100 Hometowns is an initiative to celebrate the company’s centennial.  The company chose 100 projects nationwide of over 2200 applications.  Owatonna was chosen as a recipient and the only one awarded in Minnesota.

We are excited to work together with our local Lowe’s team to upgrade this park.  Along with Lowe’s we have received a grant from Steele County Recreation and a generous memorial donation to provide even more for our citizens and visitors.  In addition to the play area, we are installing three ADA accessible picnic tables, an ADA accessible grill and an ADA accessible drinking fountain (with a doggie drinker of course!).

Pictures included in this article are the actual play pieces and colors of the new playground.   The project is slated for completion by October 31st.  Watch for updates on our Facebook page and website.

Coming in 2022…the department was recently awarded a Minnesota DNR Local Trail Connections grant!   This grant is for Kaplan’s Connection a short trail between Kaplan’s Woods Parkway and the 18th Street Trail.  The route for the trail bypasses the parking lot and enters into Kaplan’s Woods providing users safe passage while experiencing more nature transitioning from trail to trail.  Trail lights are included in the project as well.

It is quite evident that Owatonnans love their parks and trails.  Between the master plan process and what was 2020, we have seen that parks and trails are more popular than ever.  Our Parks Department is no different, we love our parks and trails and do what we can to maintain them to provide amazing experiences in nature for everyone of all ages!

If you or your family would like to leave a lasting impression in our parks, consider a donation or a memorial. 

For more information, contact Mary Jo Knudson, 507-774-7364 or

Jul 09

Park and Rec Happenings

Posted on July 9, 2021 at 11:27 AM by Jessica Abrahams

Author: Nikki Callahan, Administrative Technician

Lake Kohlmier Equipment Rental and Concessions

Open Hours and Fees

*Thursday/Friday: 1:00-7:00PM

*Saturday/Sunday: 12:00-7:00PM

*Group rental times also available during non-open hours

*Rental Rates: $6.00/hour per equipment rented

Available Rental Equipment

*Water Equipment: Canoes, Single and Double Kayaks, Peddle Boats, Hydro Bikes, Paddle Boards

*Trail Equipment: Electric Assist Trike, Tandem Bike, Tag-a-long Bike

*Safety Equipment Available (including lifejackets, Helmets and Safety Vests)

Waiver Required to use the equipment

Visit the Owatonna Parks and Recreation Website @ for additional details

Brooktree Golf Course

If you haven’t already played a round, Brooktree Golf Course is in fine shape!  Summer specials include Senior Monday special $30 – 18 holes/cart or $20 – 9 holes/cart.  And on Wednesdays, enjoy an 18-hole round of golf for just $32 with a cart and a burger and fries after your round.  The specials are until 2 p.m. and do not include league players.  The clubhouse opens at 7 a.m. daily, so grab your clubs and head to the links!

River Springs Water Park

Open Swim Hours

Monday-Friday: 12:00pm-7:00pm

Saturday and Sunday: 12:00pm-8:00pm 


June 4 - August 8: 

$7.00 per person 48" and above 

$5.00 per person under 48"

$4.50 Twilight Fee (5pm-Close) 

August 9 - August 22: 

$4.50 per person 

**All summer children under two are free with a paid adult. 

Summer Weekend Out

Mark your calendars for July 23-25 for our annual Weekend Out!  We'll offer a variety of activities including a Movie in the Park, River Springs Water Park Specials and Lake Kohlmier Specials.  Check our website for details on events and activities at

Day Camp

There are a few spots left in some of our day camps.  Check availability and register now at

Swim Lessons

Registration for August swim classes will start at 7am on July 12.  Check availability and register at