Local parks are poppin’ in July

Published 9:00 am Friday, July 22, 2022

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Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation has challenged itself to “rise up” during July by showcasing all the incredible things area parks offer.

The pledge is a part of the department’s efforts to celebrate National Parks and Recreation Month. The celebration has included free exercise classes and a recent day of fun at College Park.

The one aspect of the celebration that hits at the heart of the park’s mission is four themed park popup events like the one that took place Tuesday evening at Melbourne Park.

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“We want the communities to know that we are here to play. So we bring toys, food, and games,” said assistant programs director Tiffany Fletcher.

This week’s popup was themed Racing through Summer, which featured free Hot Wheels cars for attendees and unlimited chances to race on toy tracks.

“Our Hot Wheels Master is Tom Brown, so he is bringing some tracks that you can race Hot Wheels on. We have some other racing games, and we have pizza and popsicles,” Fletcher said on the evening’s planned merriment.

The previous week’s popup was a sidewalk chalk extravaganza at Heritage Park. Next Tuesday, Community/Harmon Park will become a Sports Spot, and the annual Bicycle Rodeo will be at Lykins Park on the 30th for what was supposed to be the month’s western-themed wrap-up. The actual finale will be in early August for the Bubble Bonanza at College Park that was rained out.

Parks and recreation offered several park popups last fall in response to feedback from the community.

“It’s actually a product of our recent Bloom Surveys that we did last year. We had a lot of feedback from residents that only a couple of our parks got attention, and they really did not know where we were,” Fletcher said.

Parks and recreation operate ten parks, and according to Fletcher, “many folks don’t know the kind of fun they can have in their own neighborhood.”

Programs director April Stanfield agreed with Fletcher’s assessment and offered her thoughts on the department’s July efforts.

“It’s a good way to show that we are out in the community. That we not only care about our parks and the recreation that happens in the parks, but we care about the people that are in our parks,” Stanfield said.

The evening’s featured park is one that Winchester residents might not be as familiar with as others.

“This is a little community park that is kind of hidden away. So a lot of people don’t realize that it exists,” Fletcher said about Melbourne Park.

Felicia McRannolds was thankful for “her littles” to have a chance to come and play at the park.

“We live around the corner,” said McRannolds. “We don’t have much to do around here, and this is not the best neighborhood ever … I feel like this park does not get a lot of attention. It could be better.”

And while McRannolds hopes to see some upgrades soon for Melbourne Park, she did think the event was an excellent way for the community to come together.

For the ladies at parks and recreation, that would be a significant “Mission accomplished” as their July rise up continues.