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.
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, ColumbusRecParks.com.
“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.