A new year is upon us, and here are a few ways to spend your free time during the first weekend of 2016.


1. Getting in better shape is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions, and the opportunity to follow through presents itself as 2016 arrives. Lake Brownwood State Park will host its annual First Day Hike, which begins at 2 p.m. today at the Texas Oak Trail Parking area.

The hikes, which will be guided, consist of varying difficulty and length. Hot chocolate and coffee will be available after the hike, as the forecast is calling for a high temperature 46 and a low of 31.

Poor weather conditions forced the 2015 hike to be cancelled after a record-setting 191 participants took part in 2014. The first two events in 2012 and 2013, drew 156 and 133, respectively.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife began the First Day Hikes in 2012 to promote state parks, which at that time were suffering from the previous year’s drought and wildfires that had kept the number of visitors down.


2. For those who wish to help to a local family in need, Grace Riders will be holding a benefit ride for Ronnie and Bonnie Walters at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Early Chamber of Commerce.

The Walters family recently lost their home and all their belongings in a house fire. The cost is $10 per bike, which includes a spaghetti dinner following the ride.

If you are not riding and would like to eat, the price is $5 a plate. Donations for the family will also be accepted.


3. Basketball enthusiasts can wrap up the weekend with a full slate of men’s college games at the Brownwood Coliseum. The NJCAA Region 5 Shootout, hosted by Ranger College, will feature contests at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Action begins with Hill College facing Howard College, followed by Weatherford College against New Mexico Junior College, McLennan Community College against Odessa College, Ranger College against Midland College and Temple College against Western Texas College.

The Shootout continues into the coming week with a pair of women’s games Monday as Weatherford College challenges Odessa College at 2 p.m., followed by Ranger College vs. Howard College at 6 p.m.