Hugh B. “Reds” Robey, legendary director of parks and recreation for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) in Prince George’s County, Maryland, passed away December 21, 2013. Robey was a dedicated NRPA member for almost 40 years and contributed to the founding of a number of NRPA professional development schools including Maintenance Management, Revenue Sources and others. Robey worked his way up through the ranks in his 40 years at M-NCPPC from his initial role as a maintenance worker, and during his tenure as director, the agency was awarded the Gold Medal Award for Excellence four times.
In late December, visitors to Rapid City, South Dakota’s Founders Park experienced a big visual surprise in the form of an impromptu mural of late South African leader and humanitarian Nelson Mandela. It remains a mystery who is responsible for the large black-and-white painting, which features Mandela’s smiling face and the words “Inspire” and “What are you about?” The image was painted on clear plastic and wrapped over a volleyball net. Area residents and members of Rapid City’s arts community lauded the mural’s uplifting message, as well as the artist’s choice to use plastic wrap to create a kind of removable graffiti.
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF) is taking rock-wall climbing to the next level with its ice-climbing tower. This winter marks the second season the tower has been in operation, offering students and the general public a chance to try their hand at climbing treacherous ice in a controlled environment. Staff at UAF’s Department of Recreation, Adventure and Wellness say they’ve been able to form the ice more realistically so it resembles any frozen waterfall one might encounter in Alaska’s wide wilderness.
The City of Raleigh, North Carolina’s, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department (PRCRD) is enjoying a big boost for its environmental initiatives, as well as educational opportunities for underprivileged children. The City of Oaks Foundation recently awarded the department a $25,000 grant to support need-based scholarships for children to participate in city-conducted summer camps and nature programs. The initiative is but one piece of an ongoing public-private partnership between the City of Oaks Foundation and PRCRD to encourage environmental conservation, stewardship and healthy living among area youths. “We want to remove cost as a barrier for children’s participation in Raleigh’s wide array of nature programs and summer camps,” says Kevin Brice, executive director of the City of Oaks Foundation. “By underwriting a need-based scholarship program for Raleigh’s outdoor nature-focused programs, the foundation seeks to boost participation and help children develop healthy habits while learning to be good stewards of our natural resources.”
Residents of Hollywood, Florida, now have the opportunity to catch some rays and get fit at the same time. The town’s Topeekeegee Yugnee Park recently unveiled the installation of almost a dozen outdoor fitness machines situated atop a large concrete pad. Officials with Memorial Healthcare System and Broward County Parks and Recreation Division helped to facilitate the exercise area, situated near the park’s two-mile walking trail. The "Memorial Fitness Zone” is expected to draw hundreds of park-goers, and use of the equipment is free and available to fitness buffs age 14 and older.
Colorado residents looking for new activities for children need search no further than Denver’s Evergreen Parks and Recreation District (EPRD), which is implementing a series of yoga classes for little ones in the New Year. EPRD will offer two courses aimed at facilitating self-expression, breathing, and the ability to work through frustration and other negative feelings. The Little Yogis class, intended for children ages 6–10, and Toddler Yoga, aimed at 2–5-year-olds, incorporates traditional yoga postures taught through games, songs, stories, obstacle courses and other play. Instructor Tanya Martelli says her focus is to inspire creativity and teach her students to love and respect their bodies and the bodies of others, as well as learn lessons in patience and self-control.
An Indiana college student was named State Park Ambassador of the Year for 2013 by America’s State Parks (ASP) for his extensive blogging on outdoor recreation. Lance Gideon, 23, was recognized with the nationwide award for his 28 blog posts detailing various activities offered at Indiana state parks, including camping, bird watching, horseback riding, hiking, cataloguing flora and fauna, and other activities. Along with bragging rights for his original work, ASP also awarded Gideon an Old Town kayak, complete with a paddle and life vest.