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Remember: What's the Point of a City Park? Part 4: Recreation

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's the Point of a City Park? Part 4: Recreation

Be it the heave and grunt of a disc golfer in the Lehigh Parkway, the whir of a bicycle passing in Trexler Park or the heavy footsteps of a runner on the gravel path at Cedar Beach Parkway; there is a constant active usage in our city parks. Combined with picnics, walks, sun tanning and a whole mess of other activities, it is safe to say that the fourth point of a City Park is recreation.

Yesterday, Michael Drabenstott commented on my blog post describing the third point of a City Park. Mr. Drabenstott said:" An amazing running community exists in Lehigh Parkway. I routinely see the same happy, friendly people week after week. You see them at races and volunteering at kids events. They're committed to fitness and to being outdoors whether it's 20 degrees and snowy or 80 degrees and humid. I don't know everyone's name. I probably never will. But with a smile, brief wave and nod of the head, we acknowledge to one another that we share important values that make us part of the same community."

The intersection of recreation, community, refuge and reflection he described in that post perfectly sums up this series of posts. Throughout our park system and on a daily basis, these tracts of land are actively used. For as much as our parks should be (and aren’t always) sanctuaries of Nature, they too must also be places where the citizens of Allentown can and do go to engage in those aforementioned recreational activities.

When I wrote the first post about the purposes of a City Park, an anonymous commenter seemed rather miffed that I had taken umbrage at the idea that some folks use our parks as mere places to run. This commenter went on to chide me for my seeming generalization of runners. His passion for the manner in which he uses our parks is exactly why recreation is so important to them.

In our parks there are even devices one can use to get a complete workout. I tried them myself a few times and I can assure you, they offer a good workout. The baseball, football, volleyball and basketball games that take place in the parks are absolutely recreational activities. Those activities are however the building blocks of a strong community.

If running, walking, disc golfing or whatever other activity you enjoy is what it takes to get you into the parks, do it. I encourage all my readers to get out into the parks and use them for whatever recreation you can use them for. I myself certainly should be using them more often to burn some calories. The connection to all of my previous points of a City Park can be made through recreation. Once someone takes a step in, all of what I have documented will begin to happen.

I will have one more point to make about the purposes of City Parks before I end this mini-series of posts. Today though, I say, go for a run. Take a walk. Throw a Frisbee disc. Bring the dog for a jog. Get out and into nature and let whatever you enjoy doing be your gateway. Just remember to leave only footprints. Perhaps I’ll see you sometime.



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