2020 Helen & Alan Berg Good Governance Award Nominees

Albany - Fun in the Park "To Go"

uEYuBUgy.jpgFun in the Park is a program the city has been doing for over 20 years. At this event the city pop ups in a different neighborhood park each week with free crafts, physical activities, and local business and groups join us with giveaways. There is also a huge social aspect for kids engaging in outside play, along with parents meeting and socializing with other parents. This is held on Wednesdays from 10am-noon throughout the summer. The event has grown over the years and has become extremely popular in the community. The city serves around 3,400 people each summer. The original idea behind creating this event was to get kids outside, engaged, exploring different parks and out from behind their television screens. This event is highly supported by local sponsors and other city departments.

This year provided a challenge with COVID-19. The city knew they still needed to provide this fun activity, even more so now than before. Kid's activities were few and far between, and the entire community was feeling the negative impacts of being stuck at home. They had a challenge ahead of them with the Oregon Health Authority requirements. The amount of kids the city traditionally serve in a day is upwards of 500. The team quickly went to work to come up with a nontraditional approach. They pivoted and adjusted to Fun in the Park "To Go". The city picked one of their largest parks with a long drive way and a scenic view. They asked the sponsors and other city departments to get involved. They packaged crafts and gave those out by age group, the fire department joined in with water safety information and fun giveaways, the Albany Police Department joined in with giveaways and even an appearance of McGruff the crime dog. Home Depot handed out building kits, Altrusa handed out books, Oregon State Cheerleaders joined them, Cesar the No Drama Llama made appearances, a local reptile company brought reptiles, Coastal Farm and Ranch provided snack packs, and the local Kona Ice handed out snow cones.

The city also added some fun for kids while driving through with a good old fashioned game of "I spy". They placed different fun items around the park that kept kids of all ages engaged during the entire ride. In conjunction with the in-person event the city would post a different fun physical activity on social media each week that the kids could do at home or in their favorite park after they came to see them. Essentially they could have their very own Fun in the Park, with all the same elements as last year, while physically distancing in the space of their choice. The entire event was free for families and supported by their community sponsors and city departments.

The response the city got from the community was better then they ever expected. Parents were thrilled to have something to take their kids to that was safe and engaging. Kids were thrilled with the fun crafts, giveaways, and interacting with local heroes. They served as many people (possibly more) as they did in years past. The city is taking this model into the rest of the year with Trick-or-Treat Cruise-Thru and Winter Wonderland Way! They know this is a vital activity for the community now more than ever. The job at Parks and Recreation is to engage the community and lift spirits even in the most difficult of times. These events are what makes a city, a community the department feels privileged to be a part of it.

Learn more about the Fun in the Park "To Go" Program