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For Immediate Release
News Date: July 15, 2021

Columbus Recreation and Parks Department Celebrates National Park and Recreation Month, 111 Years of Operation

COLUMBUS–July is National Park and Recreation Month. This annual event, hosted by the National Recreation and Park Association, celebrates the positive impact recreation and parks departments have on communities across the country. July 15 also marks the department’s 111th year of operation.

Established on July 15, 1910, the City Recreation Department enriched Columbus by finding ways to make streets, alleys, boulevards, parks and public grounds more beautiful. On Jan. 2, 1972, the City Recreation Department merged with the Division of Forestry and Parks to become the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.

“For 111 years, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department has enhanced the quality of life for Columbus residents by connecting individuals through the power of nature, wellness and creativity,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “From offering a safe place for youth to engage in positive, enriching activities to helping connect families in crisis with needed resources to offering seniors opportunities to stay active and engaged, Columbus Recreation and Parks helps make Columbus a great place to live.”

The theme of this year's National Park and Recreation Month is Our Park and Recreation Story and focuses on the history of the department. And Columbus Recreation and Parks has quite a rich history! Some interesting facts about the department include:  

  • The City features more than 400 parks where residents can enjoy nature, connect with family and friends, and stay active. English Park (also known as the Children's Africentric Playground) is home to the Kwanzaa Playground. The park focuses on positive African-American images based around the concept that "it takes a whole village to raise a child." The park was renovated in 2014 with new play equipment and art restoration as well as a new portal by artist Queen Brooks. Learn more about the City’s parks.
  • ​The Columbus Urban Forestry Master Plan, the first citywide, strategic plan to invest long-term in Columbus’ trees, was recently approved. An urban forest refers to all the trees within a city, across all lands (both public and private). Investing in the tree canopy will improve the quality of life for all residents–tress help reduce urban stressors by cleaning our air, providing shade, intercepting stormwater and more. With the City expected to grow by 1 million people by 2050, it’s important to start this work now.
  • The City features two skate parks. Dodge Skate Park, the City’s first skate park, was designed by Frank Hawk, legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk’s father. The 16-acre park features three all-concrete bowls; 3, 4, and 6 feet deep. The 4-foot bowl can function as a half-pipe, while the 6-foot bowl has an intense "verte."
  • Residents from preschool to age 99+ can access programs catering to a variety of interests including the arts, fitness and educational pursuits. Many are low- or no-cost, and all are designed to help residents connect with nature, wellness and creativity-and each other! One program, City Leaders, is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and introduces middle school students to the leaders and locations that make Columbus great. It educates middle school youth to become model citizens and future leaders of our City.

These are just a few highlights of all Columbus Recreation and Parks has to offer. For more information, visit the department’s website,

“There are so many way engage with the department, and we offer programs and activities for residents of all ages, preschool to 99+, no matter their interest,” said Paul Rakosky, interim director of Columbus Recreation and Parks. “This summer alone, we’re excited to offer summer camps and recreational programming, live theatre performances, free mobile produce markets, sports leagues and fitness centers, free admission to pools and spraygrounds and much more. Many programs are no- and low-cost to make them accessible to everyone.”

To learn more about what’s taking place, residents can browse current recreational programming and sign up for the department’s monthly email newsletter.

Residents are at the center of the department’s programs and services, and are what brings its story to life. In honor of National Park and Recreation Month, the department is encouraging residents to share how they have engaged with Columbus Recreation and Parks over the years. Residents can share photos and memories on social media by using the hashtag #OurParkAndRecStory and tagging the department.