Jacksonville to feature parks at Health and Fitness Day

Jacksonville Parks and Recreation will be hosting a Health and Fitness Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday to promote six of the city’s parks, including Heritage Park, shown above. There will be games and activities at each park for guests to participate in throughout the day.

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Staci Vandagriff)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the goals of the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department was for residents and guests to be more active. Part of meeting that goal includes the upcoming National Recreation and Park Association Family Health and Fitness Day on Saturday.

“It just fits in with everything we do, and it made sense to do something,” said Kevin House, Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department director. “We just had to come up with a creative way to get people out and see some of our parks that are greatly unknown.”

House said organizers are still finalizing the details, but the event will work a lot like a scavenger hunt. There will be five or six stops that will showcase a few of the city’s parks. There will be staff at each location with various activities. The hunt will start at the Jacksonville Community Center, and once guests complete the first fitness activity, they will be given the next park location. The scavenger hunt will last from 9 a.m. to noon.

Some of the activities will include potato-sack races at Heritage Park. House said there won’t be prizes because he wants to enforce social distancing as much as possible.

“We are going to set up pickleball nets outside and let them play pickleball,” House said.

He said basketball and Wiffle ball will also be played. House said the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines for physical distancing and disinfecting will be enforced, and hand sanitizer will be available at each site as well.

“Everyone will have to start at the community center, but not everyone will have to start at the same time,” House said. “They can do it within the three-hour block. They won’t all be at the community center from 9 a.m. to noon to go to each location.”

He said part of the goal of the event is to spotlight some of the lesser-known parks in Jacksonville. He said most residents know about Dupree Park, which is one of the bigger parks, at about 180 acres with a sports complex and playgrounds. He said some of the small ones, such as Heritage Park, are not as well-known, and House would like to showcase those parks.

He said each attendee will have a card for staff members to punch at each location. In order to complete the card, guests will have to go to each park.

During the scavenger hunt, there will also be a five-minute boot camp or exercise class for everyone to participate in. House said the day will end at the Splash Zone in Jacksonville, 201 W. Martin St. He said the first 150 people will receive a free cone ice.

The pool, which opened in 2005, has recently reopened to the public and is following department guidelines. House said guests have done well following the guidelines that have been put in place. He said the pool operation has gone really smoothly. He said Saturday’s event will serve two purposes, as it also celebrates the 15th anniversary of the pool.

For more information, visit www.cityofjacksonville.net or call (501) 982-4171.

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or [email protected]

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