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Inexpensive cures for cabin fever

Is cabin fever setting in?

This is the time of year we start to go a little stir crazy. The fun of the holidays is over, spring is still months away, and it can seem like there’s nothing to do but wait for the sun to return.

But as long as you’re dressed for the weather and temperatures aren’t way below freezing, the benefits of some sunshine, exercise and fresh air are priceless.

Here are just a few cheap or free ways to get outdoors.

• Sledding. You can get a sled from a big-box discount store for less than $7, but when I was a kid, we used laundry baskets or plastic sheeting. You can also use lids to big plastic containers, vinyl outdoor cushions, a large plastic mat, inner tubes, a baby pool or even a big piece of cardboard with the front turned back like a toboggan, suggests Living

Stick to public sledding hills that have been vetted for safety, such as Genesee County Park and Forest, 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany – a hidden gem with two sledding hills.

There’s also Elma Meadows Golf Course & Park, 1711 Girdle Road in Elma, which is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Local favorite Chestnut Ridge Park Sledding Hill, 6121 Chestnut Ridge Road in Orchard Park, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and 4 to 8 p.m. on Fridays. And for adventurous teens, there’s the very steep Reservoir State Park in Lewiston by the I-190 and Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.

• Ice skating. The outdoor rink at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, near Fillmore Avenue and Best Street, offers free skating and free skate rentals Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 5:30 p.m. Bring a helmet for kids 12 and younger. Call 838-1249, Ext. 17, for more information.

Skating is also free at Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza, Main Street at Chippewa Street. It’s open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Ice skate rentals are $2 for kids, $3 for adults. Call 856-3150 for more information.

In the City of Tonawanda, there’s Ives Pond on Elgin Street at Delaware Avenue. In good conditions, the lights are on until 10 p.m. Akron Falls State Park, 44 Parkview Drive in Akron, has a great, free rink in a beautiful setting which is open from noon to 8 p.m. Call 542-2330. Como Lake Park, 2220 Como Park Blvd. in Lancaster, is open noon to 8 p.m. Call 683-5430.

As with all outdoor rinks, skate availability is dependent on the weather. Call the rink ahead for ice conditions.

• Check out your town’s Parks and Recreation Department. You may be surprised what kinds of activities and facilities they offer – crafts, open swimming at indoor pool facilities, hockey leagues, fitness classes, hiking trails, nature preserves, you name it.

For example, Bond Lake Park, 2571 Lower Mountain Road in Ransomville, has 531 acres and a winter complex with cross-country skiing trails, tubing hills, ice rinks and a warming house with a fireplace. The City of Tonawanda runs a snow sculpture contest through March 31. Just email a photo of your handiwork to to be submitted for possible awards. And Grand Island has a “Reality Cafe” teen center complete with an ever-changing list of activities.