Following the COVID-19 shutdown that affected attendance in most parks in St. Joseph, staff with the St. Joseph Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities want to get people active again.
The best way to do that — get people back out in its parks interacting and playing games. Enter: its “Sunday Sunday Pop-Up Parks.”
Bringing out activities like lawn darts, chalking and volleyball, the parks department hopes to put smiles back on people’s faces due to a lack of community events.
“These (parks) were all put up for the community to enjoy. Not not seeing them out there, it’s kind of sad. For them to come back out, it’s a way for them to really kind of get healthy again and lighten their stress,” Jessica Oshel, special events and communication coordinator for the St. Joseph Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities Department, said.
Its next installment will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20 at Bartlett Park. An additional event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 27, at Hochman Park.
To combat those post-shutdown blues, the parks department knew it had to do something fun, free and family friendly. Its organizers gathered its resources, including its horseshoes, ladder ball equipment and hula hoops, with the aim of making everyone lose some of their worries and embrace their inner child.
“It gives them all a place to really enjoy and forget about what’s going on. (We’re) very very happy to see everybody kind of coming out and making the parks come alive,” Oshel said.
While an initial event at Civic Center Park had a low turnout, Oshel said the parks department is hoping to see bigger crowds at its last two pop-up events.
“Even if we don’t have a great turnout, as long as the people who do come really enjoy it and are laughing and smiling and I can see that they’re having a good time, that’s definitely gonna be worth it,” Oshel said.
The events also work as a bonus for people who may have been timid about going to some of St. Joseph’s parks. Oshel said they hope they can introduce new people to its outdoor activity spaces so they can turn into regular visitors.
“It’s just a way for families to get into the parks that normally wouldn’t be in the parks or maybe haven’t seen the new playsets that have been put up. It’s just really to get them out there to see what we have,” she said.