BerkleyJuly 9, 2012
SummerFest's back for second run of fun in the sun
By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer
It’s summertime, and the living is easy in Berkley thanks to a whole plethora of family-friendly events on the horizon with the Parks and Recreation Department’s second annual SummerFest.
The summer celebration will feature activities at locations all over the community from mid-July through late-September. According to Parks and Recreation Director Tom Colwell, this year’s SummerFest will merely be a fine-tuning of all the highlights that made the first one so successful.
“We really liked the program that we had last year,” he said, “so this time we’ve just been working on making things run more efficiently overall. We’re extremely proud of the fact that we’re able to provide so many of these great events for free to the whole community.”
Every year since 1985, America has celebrated July as its official Parks and Recreation Month. The National Recreation and Park Association encourages cities across the U.S. to spend July hosting special summer programs, promoting outdoor physical fitness and making recreation activities a thriving center of the community.
This year’s SummerFest will kick off July 11 with Senior Activity Day, which will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Berkley Community Center, 2400 Robina Ave. It will feature outdoor games such as croquet, bocce ball and a bean bag toss as well as indoor activities like cards and bingo. There will also be a screening of the movie “Secondhand Lions,” and all guests will receive a complimentary breakfast and lunch.
The Jaycee Park Jamboree will take place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on July 19. Jaycee Park, located between Bacon and Phillips avenues just south of Webster Road, will be filled with activities for little ones, including a moon bouncer, arts and crafts, face painting and various games.
Next up will be the centerpiece of SummerFest: the Community Picnic, which will be held at Community Park, located just outside the Community Center, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 21. It’s an event designed for people of all ages and will include a dunk tank, free tennis lessons, horseshoes for adults and “Jump-a-Rama” games for kids.
City Councilman Alan Kideckel has already volunteered to be a part of the dunk tank just as he did a year ago. He believes that SummerFest and its sister celebration, WinterFest, are great additions to a well-established series of family events in the city such as Berkley Days, the Berkley Art Bash, Berkley CruiseFest and the Holiday Lights Parade.
“With the way the economy is right now, people want to find things to do for free as a family without traveling very far,” said Kideckel, the former chair of the Berkley Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. “This event gives them a chance to have fun in the sun while staying close to home, and it really helps bring the community closer together. My hat goes off to our Parks and Rec Department for creating all these great activities and giving them a chance to thrive.”
Kideckel also pointed out that because SummerFest features a whole series of events instead of just one, residents have plenty of options to choose from over a two-month period. If they can’t make it to one particular event, he said, they can probably make it to the next one that’s arriving right around the corner.
One element that is changing at this year’s SummerFest is the timing of the Great Berkley Campout. The event has previously been held in late June but had to be canceled last year because of low participation, so it has now been rescheduled for early August.
“We just felt like the timing of it in the past was too soon after school got out,” Colwell explained. “We hoped it would be more convenient for people if we moved it later in the summer. It’s an event that really brings home the idea of a stay-cation, where people can still have a good time without dealing with the hustle and bustle and expense of travel.”
The campout will take place in Jaycee Park from the evening of Aug. 3 through the morning of Aug. 4. Families can set up a tent and other camping gear and spend the night in the park, where they can gather around the campfire to make s’mores as well as enjoy family games, a climbing tower and camping demonstrations. The cost is $20 to camp out overnight and $10 to just participate in the Aug. 3 festivities.
Lil’ Tykes Tot Lot Day will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 9 in the Kiwanis Tot Lot, located east of Cass Boulevard between Cambridge and Columbia roads. Kids can take part in water activities, play games, sing songs and enjoy a tasty snack. In addition, Parks and Rec officials will be on hand to talk to local residents about future improvements to the tot lot.
“We’re really looking forward to getting some good input from them about what they’d like to see over there,” Colwell said. “We want to hear from the people who use that park the most.”
From 6:30-8 p.m. on Aug. 28, residents are invited to come out to the Community Center for an ice cream social and open house. There, they can savor some free ice cream while learning about some of Berkley Parks and Rec’s fall classes and programs and meet some of its instructors.
SummerFest will then wrap up with a pair of family movie nights held outdoors at dusk. The first will feature “Puss in Boots” and will take place Aug. 25 at Community Park, while the second will feature “The Lorax” and will be held Sept. 22 at Lazenby Park, located near Rogers Elementary School. Families are invited to bring out their own chairs and blankets and enjoy the movies as well as a handful of activities for kids.
Colwell stressed that SummerFest is a communitywide celebration that would not be possible without the help and support of numerous city volunteers and businesses. Its many fun events serve as an illustration of the larger goals of the Berkley Parks and Recreation Department.
“We not only want to promote our own programming; we also want to promote healthy, active lifestyles in this community,” Colwell said. “One of the things that people liked best about SummerFest last year was the social aspect of it. They relished the opportunity to get to know some of their neighbors and spend time outdoors with other families.”
For more information about Berkley SummerFest, call (248) 658-3470 or visit www.berkleymich.org.
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