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Sterling Heights

June 28, 2013

Dodge Park to offer teens an evening of fun

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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 Dodge Park to offer teens an evening of fun
From left, Michael Bankston, Noah Bankston and Chris Zahron race on an inflatable obstacle course during the 2012 Teen Fest event at Dodge Park in Sterling Heights.

Young people who are bored of watching TV during their summer break will have an affordable place to bring their friends and have fun this weekend.

The Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department will hold its 13th annual Teen Fest July 9 in Dodge Park. The event is geared for people ages 12 to 15.

Recreation Manager Kyle Langlois said the festival is one of his organization’s main events throughout the year, and it is well-attended by about 700 teens on some years.

“I think Teen Fest, for the most part, sells itself,” Langlois said. “Certainly, people look forward to it every year.”

Langlois explained that it provides a safe, positive environment that teens can enjoy without worries about alcohol or drugs. He said the Utica Community Action Team and the Sterling Heights Public Library are also on board with making the festival a success.

Organizers say the event will give kids the chance to listen to a DJ, get airbrush tattoos, get their caricatures drawn, play with a zip line and an inflatable obstacle course, enjoy food and lemonade, and more.

“New this year, we’ll have a ‘pucker-powered station,’ which is essentially a build-your-own Pixy Stix station,” Langlois said. “We bring in the biggest rock wall we can find, the tallest slide we can find.”

Recreation Supervisor Troy Nowotny, who is managing Teen Fest, said the event is open to teens from other cities, so long as they register in advance. The event is for teens only, and people outside the age range will not be admitted, he said.

Nowotny added that the Parks and Recreation Department is continuing to fine-tune the festival to appeal to youth. “We looked at what was popular last year, and we tried to replicate that,” he said. “They can come and see a lot of stuff that is cheap.”

Young people will also get a chance to see information on healthy lifestyle choices.

Jean Pekar-Colling, vice president of the Utica Community Action Team, said her group sets up a table and display with information about the dangers of substance abuse. The group invites kids to wear goggles that simulate drunken vision while inviting them to walk in a straight line.

“That’s always a great way to get conversations starting,” Pekar-Colling said. “It is eye-opening for the kids.”

The Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department’s 13th annual Teen Fest will take place 7-9 p.m. July 9 in Dodge Park, 40620 Utica Road. Only people ages 12-15 who register in advance will be admitted.

To register, visit www.myshpr.net or go to the Parks and Recreation Center at Dodge Park. The registration fee is $2.50 for residents and $3.50 for nonresidents. Learn more by calling (586) 446-2700.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.