MINNEAPOLIS -- There is snow on the ground, temperatures are dropping into the teens and winter is in full swing up in the Twin Cities, which means only one thing -- the time is almost here for Winter Caravan.
An annual tradition for the past 46 years, the 2006 Twins Winter Caravan will visit more than 50 communities in four states during the last two weeks of January leading up to TwinsFest. Sponsored by Dodge and your friendly Dodge dealers, this year's event will have four separate tours with the Northwest jaunt taking place Jan. 16-19 and the Central, North and South trips occurring from Jan. 23-26.
The caravan features four teams of current and former players visiting schools, hospitals and other community locations during the day, before ending with a traditional "Hot Stove League" program each evening.
First up on the caravan schedule will be the Northwest leg that will travel up into North Dakota, South Dakota and parts of Minnesota near the Dakota borders. The Central, North and South legs will take place on the following week in the four days heading into TwinsFest with stops ranging from Mason City, Iowa, all the way up to Duluth, Minn.
Scheduled to participate in this year's Midwest bus tour are catcher Joe Mauer, pitcher Joe Nathan, pitcher Carlos Silva, outfielder Michael Cuddyer and manager Ron Gardenhire, among others. Former Twins greats Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew will also take part in the trip.
Joining the current and former players on each leg of the tour will be a member of the Twins radio/television broadcast team, including WCCO Radio's John Gordon and Dan Gladden, and Fox Sports Net North's Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven. Every trip will also feature appearances by Twins Sports Inc. president Jerry Bell, Twins president Dave St. Peter, and Twins general manager Terry Ryan.
A full list of exact dates and communities where the caravan will stop can be found by clicking here
. More information on destinations and times for the events will be available at twinsbaseball.com in the coming days, or fans can tune in to their local Twins Radio Network affiliate. For more questions, please call 1-800-33-TWINS.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.