Bowling Green Parks and Recreation

BG parks & rec achieves 2018 goals; reaches for more in 2019

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Some statistics are meaningful – some are just interesting. For example, who knew that 1,564 hot dogs were sold at City Park last year? And is there some connection between the 1,403 orders of nachos with cheese sold at City Pool and the 59 swim diapers sold? But seriously, here are some stats from Bowling Green Parks and Recreation for 2018: 19,670 total participants in programs.82,394 daily swipes into the community center.2,918 reserved facility uses, with an estimated headcount of 81,254.6,931 fitness program participants.47,935 visits to City Pool. Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, recently reported the 2018 accomplishments and 2019 goals for the department. The parks and rec department did some long-range planning, plus completed maintenance and repairs. Work continued to make the parks more accessible to people with physical disabilities, the Nature Center at Wintergarden Park was remodeled, roof and HVAC repairs were made at Simpson Building, and Ridge Park saw drainage repairs and the installation of a backstop. At Conneaut-Haskins Park, new trees were added after the large ailing tree at the base of the sledding hill was removed. And new benches were added along the Wintergarden Park trail. The parks and rec department also made several land management improvements, such as: Restoration of native plant species at Wintergarden St. John Nature Preserve, Carter Park and the community center.Continued paving of trails at Simpson Garden Park.Redevelopment of the Healing Garden at Simpson Garden Park.Completion of the two-acre prairie expansion at the community center.Expansion of the hosta garden to more than 1,000 different species. The parks and rec department also last year expanded youth fitness offerings, as well as lowered the age of participation in fitness classes. Programs were offered on a variety of topics or skills, such as bubble soccer, outdoor survival skills, wilderness first aid, archery, birding, nature study, theater camps, a walking program, and aqua bikes spinning classes at the pool. Otley also presented information on goals planned for the parks and rec department in 2019. Big on the list is the demolition of three buildings near the entrance of City Park – then the construction of a new replacement building. The department plans to work with the community to gather old photos and historical information to display in the new building, plus work on naming rights for the new facility. In Carter Park, the Bellard and Perkins shelters will be replaced with one new larger shelter. Some of the other goals include plans to work cooperatively with other groups in the community, such as the senior center and Bowling Green City Schools. Plans at specific parks include: Bringing back the soup/chili walk event at Wintergarden Park.Level and reseed turf in open play area at Ridge Park, plus complete drainage improvements.Paint the Kiwanis Shelter in City Park.Replace picnic tables at Miller Shelter in City Park.Continue to solve ADA issues in the parks to make them more accessible.Continue paving trails at Simpson Garden Park.Work to expand the outdoor obstacle course trail behind the community center.Continue the Zombie Mud Run and Kid’s Super Hero Run.Level and seed remaining acreage behind the community center so it can be used for open play.Replace two diving boards at City Pool. In the area of administration, the park and rec department will keep working with city bicycle safety commission, create a land acquisition policy, implement the new no smoking ordinance in parks, and work to develop a trail out to the community center.

BG park board wades into debate over raising pool fees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board is again being asked to raise fees at the city pool. But as long as the park programs are treading water, some board members are holding steady in their opposition to increasing pool passes and daily fees. Last September, the board voted to raise rates for several park programs by 3 percent. City Council later approved those changes. Also on the list in September for proposed fee hikes were daily and season pool passes. But at that time, park board chairman Jeff Crawford asked that the proposed increases at the pool be studied further. He spoke about his wife’s experience teaching at Crim Elementary School, where a portion of the student body is lower income. Crawford said he would like to wait and see the summer statistics at the pool to see if it’s necessary to raise fees for kids using the facility. On Tuesday evening, updated numbers were presented by Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. Those rates showed increased use of the pool last summer – but a deficit in the overall parks budget, primarily due to the first payment being made on bonds for the new city park building to be constructed this year. The good season was viewed from two perspectives. For Otley, the hot summer and high usage meant that season pass owners likely felt they got their money’s worth and would be more willing to pay a little bit more this summer. But for Crawford, the good season meant that more revenue came in at the pool, so fee increases should be considered only if absolutely necessary to keep the pool afloat. Crawford again voiced his specific concerns about families who might be unable to afford seasonal or daily passes if the fees were increased. “I don’t want us to raise pool rates,” he said. “It’s a mistake to think that raising the fees will translate into more money.” Rate hikes could result in fewer people being able to afford using the pool. “I hate to see families who can’t show up” because it’s become unreachable. Otley, however, is looking at the bigger picture of the overall park and recreation expenses. The pool is headed into its seventh season, so replacement costs are hitting about now – like $9,500 for two diving boards, and $5,600 for lounge chairs. Also minimum wage went up 25 cents an hour, and many of the pool employees get minimum wage, she said. Plus the park department just made its first annual payment of $237,669 toward the bonds for the new City Park building. That helped create the $420,119 deficit in this year’s budget of $2.33 million in revenue and $2.75 in expenses. “Our budget is not balanced this year. We’re going into our reserves,” Otley told the board. The park and rec staff has already gone through the budget with a “machete,” looking for ways to cut costs without cutting into services, she said. The board discussed other options to increase pool revenue – such as by charging larger increases to non-residents, who already pay more; offering free days early in the season to attract more passholders; raising fees for season passholders but not daily fees; perhaps offering shorter seasonal passes for those interested. Otley challenged the board to come up with creative solutions to increase pool revenues. “Maybe there’s another way,” she said. Crawford said he understands the need to keep up with inflationary costs, but the park board must be mindful of the people who have trouble affording…

Clearing the air – BG to ban all smoking in city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board put principle (and clean air) above profits Tuesday evening as members voted unanimously to ban smoking in city parks. The park board asked that City Council adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking in the parks. The only concern expressed by the board was the possible loss of rental revenue from people using park facilities. But the board agreed that the loss of a couple rental fees was worth the effort to provide clean air to park patrons. “If we’re a trend setter in that area, I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the staff was very concerned about smoking near our programs and around our younger users,” Otley said. In order to keep smoking away from ballparks, playgrounds, and shelter houses, the park board banned smoking in all areas except parking lots. In 2015, vaping was included in the smoking restrictions. On Tuesday, the board voted to ban smoking anywhere in the parks, starting in 2019. “We can make sure people using our facilities are in a healthy environment,” Otley said. Park board president Jeff Crawford agreed. “It fits with what we stand for as parks and recreation,” Crawford said. “Maybe we’ll gain a few rentals.” Natural resources coordinator Chris Gajewicz said he doesn’t envision the smoking ban hurting park usage. He noted the smoking ban at BGSU has not cut into the university’s enrollment. “It doesn’t seem to be hurting them,” he said. Park staff has noticed an uptick in cigarette butts being tossed in the parks.The new smoking rule would be enforced by park staff – as are the current restrictions. “I have no problem walking up to someone and saying, ‘Please smoke in the parking lot,’” Gajewicz said of the current rules. If staff ran into problems, they would call city police to assist. Passage of a city ordinance would strengthen the enforcement, Otley said. Mayor Dick Edwards commended the board for taking steps to completely ban smoking in city parks. “Given what we’re all about with the parks, it makes really good sense from my perspective,” Edwards said.

BG may completely snuff out smoking in city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Visitors to Bowling Green’s parks may soon be able to take a deep breath of fresh air without the chance of gagging on secondhand smoke. The Bowling Parks and Recreation Board is discussing the possibility of making all city parks completely smoke-free. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the staff was very concerned about smoking near our programs and around our younger users,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. In order to keep smoking away from ballparks, playgrounds, and shelter houses, the park board banned smoking in all areas except parking lots. In 2015, vaping was included in the smoking restrictions. But on Tuesday evening, the parks and rec board discussed taking the smoking ban further. “Is now the time to go completely smoke free? It’s to the point when there are people doing it, it really bothers the other people,” Otley said. “So we’re just sort of exploring it.” A smoking ban seems to blend well with the park department philosophy. “One of our core values is health,” Otley said. “We want to make sure we’re providing healthy environments and opportunities to the community.” Both Bowling Green State University and Wood County Hospital have banned smoking on their campuses. It is guessed that some of those employees take a short drive to the parks for a smoke. “We’ve been getting a lot more people making comments,” Otley said. And park staff has noticed an uptick in cigarette butts being tossed in the parks. Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz recently made signs to post at Wintergarden Park making it clear that people cannot smoke as they walk the trails. “How frustrating is that – when you’re trying to enjoy nature,” Otley said. The board seemed supportive of the complete smoking ban in the parks, but will continue to discuss the matter at the next monthly meeting. The only concern expressed was that a full ban could affect the park building rentals. The new requirement would be posted on rental rules. The new smoking rule would be enforced by park staff – as are the current restrictions. “For the most part, they respect that,” Otley said of those asked to extinguish their cigarettes. If staff ran into problems, they would call city police to assist, she added. “This is definitely something the staff feels very strongly about,” Otley said.

Parks & Rec Foundation hosting fundraiser to benefit Ridge Park

On behalf of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation Trustees I encourage all to attend the 23rd Annual Wine and Cheese Social and Silent and Live Auctions Friday, September 28th from 5-8 p.m. at the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut in Bowling Green. Admission is $50 per person through September 21 and $60 after. You can send a check to Cheryl Witt at BG Parks and Recreation Foundation at the address listed above or call 419-354-6297 or e-mail for a reservation. All proceeds will benefit the completion of Ridge Park. In addition to delicious appetizers and desserts, there will be a variety of wines, beers and soft drinks available. In addition to the Auctions, there will be a wine pull, an autumn mum sale, and a raffle for an Apple Watch. Plan to come to enjoy a wonderful evening. Roger Anderson, BG Parks and Recreation Foundation Trustee

Author talks about the importance of going native in backyard planting

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Heather Holm is always interested in doing less work in her garden. The author would rather spend her time observing the bees, butterflies, wasps, and other insects that inhabit the space. And she was pleased to tell those gathered in the Simpson Garden Building in Bowling Green that the two go hand in hand. Holm was in Bowling Green recently to speak on “Forget Television – The Real Entertainment is Happening Outside in Your Pollinator-Friendly Garden,” a talk sponsored by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation and Oak Openings Wild Ones. Funds from the Kuebeck Forum helped fund the program. Holm structured her talk around what one would find on cable TV if they weren’t out observing and working on their yards. There was everything from the food channel to crime. Her message was to cultivate plants native to the area as a way of fostering populations of pollinators needed for a healthy local environment. So plant milk weed to help feed Monarch butterflies, who depend entirely on plants for food, Holm said. Keep in mind color – butterflies and bees can’t see red – as well as fragrance as a way of attracting them. “There are plants that will thrive in the horrible conditions you’ve been struggling with all these years,” the Minnesota-based author said. And ease up on some gardening chores. Holm said she leaves plant stubble up in the fall to give nesting spaces to insects. She also doesn’t clear away natural debris because 70 percent of bees nest below ground and this provides the right material they need. On the other hand, wood mulch is a barrier for those nests. She urged the full house attending her talk to avoid applying pesticides. They inflict collateral damage on the insects that actually are better at controlling aphids and other unwanted bugs. Holm also described the many insects, some bees, some not, that can be confused with others. And when she reached the crime channel section of her talk she offered up an example that would make a zombie blanch. Conopid flies lay eggs inside the abdomen of a bumblebee, and then consume the bee once the eggs are hatched. Creating pollinator friendly landscapes is not just a suburban or rural concern. Research, she said, shows bees are often more abundant in cities than in neighboring rural areas, particularly in low income areas where there are vacant lots and less use of pesticides. Regardless of the area, Holm concluded it is important to cultivate native plants. They support specialized relationships being particular fauna and flora. They are more attractive, four times more attractive, to pollinators than non-native species. They are adapted to local growing conditions. They improve biodiversity by providing food and habitat, directly or indirectly, for all organisms throughout the food chain. For those who are interested in learning more, Holm has written two books “Pollinators of Native Plants” (2014) and “Bees” (2017). Wild Ones is an organization that promotes the use of native plants. The local chapter is Oak Openings Wild Ones.  

Hold the mower, Simpson Garden Park tries natural look

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No, the city lawn mowers are working just fine. No, the recent rains haven’t created an abnormal growth spurt in these grasses. The city parks and recreation staff is fielding questions about the new tall grasses being tried out in Simpson Garden Park. To those with perfectly manicured lawns, the new experiment at Simpson Garden Park may be jarring and offend their sense of order. But to the park staff, the new tall grasses are an experiment that could lessen the human impact on the environment. Chris Gajewicz, the city’s natural resources coordinator, talked about the new grass Tuesday evening during the monthly meeting of the city parks and recreation board. The new grass getting the attention is a fescue called Scottish Links, growing near the amphitheater in the park. It is drought resistant, so it does not need to be irrigated, and does not need fertilized. Once established, the fescue out-competes weeds like dandelions and thistle, so there is little to no need for chemical herbicides and pesticides to manage weeds, Gajewicz said. The Scottish Links is a low-mow grass variety, so the staff may mow it as little as once a year – which will use less fossil fuels and produce less carbon emissions. A sign will be posted by the fescue to explain its purpose. Gajewicz realizes the tall grass may look unkept – particularly to people with perfect lawns. But this is an “experiment in sustainability” that can help reduce the city’s environmental footprint, he said. Besides, some people appreciate a more natural look. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “Gardens are always in a state of change,” Gajewicz explained. Since Simpson Garden Park was first created 13 years ago, it has undergone a lot of changes. The healing garden is now designed to nourish visitors’ minds, bodies and souls – instead of just displaying medicinal plants. New bridges and concrete paths have been installed to make the site accessible to people with physical disabilities. And now the park staff wants to make the park more sustainable and responsible, he said. The efforts were praised by Mayor Dick Edwards and City Council member Sandy Rowland. “I so agree with what you’re doing,” Rowland said to Gajewicz. “I like your philosophy on this.” Edwards said he appreciates the Scottish Links. “It’s a constant reminder to me what real golfers have to deal with.” The mayor mentioned that his wife’s first reaction to the tall grass was not exactly positive. However, when the purpose for the fescue was explained, her opinion changed. “Even Nadine likes your Scottish Links,” Edwards said. To explain the unruly grasses to park patrons, Gajewicz wrote the following statement: “Gardens, by definition, are not static but dynamic. They are living, growing, constantly evolving spaces. Each growing year, day, and even minute, every single moment in a garden is in a constant state of change. Visitors to Simpson Garden Park may have noticed over the past eleven years, the “Healing Garden” has changed to accommodate the entire person, their mind, body, and spirit while surrounded by healing plants. The garden is no longer a collection of medicinal plants, but a space meant to nourish the whole visitor. The Holistic Healing Garden is now a destination garden which is ADA compliant for disabled visitors. The concrete sculpted bridges, (and similarly themed benches), have been removed and replaced, again with ADA compliance in mind and also because the material with which they were constructed deteriorated over time. They had to be restored more than once…

Wacky Olympics & more as parks & rec summer programs begin

From BOWLING GREEN PARKS & RECREATION Bowling Green Parks and Recreation summer programs kick into gear this week. WACKY  SUMMER OLYMPICS WEEK Boys & Girls, Age 6-12 June 11-June 15  8:00AM–12:00PM $61 Resident $70 Nonresident PRESCHOOL WACKY  SUMMER OLYMPICS WEEK Boys & Girls, Ages 3.5-5.5 June 11-June 15  8:30AM–11:30AM $51 Resident $60 Nonresident Campers will get to compete in some traditional and also some  nontraditional wacky games and contests.  Sure to be fun for everyone involved!  NOTE:  Parents and non camper families are invited and encouraged to come participate in our Family Fun Wacky Olympic Picnic hosted by BG Parks & Recreation Staff on Thursday, June 14th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.  Families can bring their picnic dinner and participate in some fun and wacky competition against other participants. 5 DAYS OF FUN AFTERNOON DAY CAMPS Boys & Girls, Age 6-12 June 11-June 15  1:00PM–5:00PM 61 Resident $70 Nonresident Have your child get to experience a little of everything that Bowling Green Parks & Recreation has to offer in this weekly afternoon camp offered at City Park and get to enjoy plenty of supervised fun at the BG City Pool and Waterpark (weather permitting).  Each day of the week has a different theme.  Kids will report to the Veteran’s Building each day and go to that day’s activities from there as a group. MONDAY FUNDAY  AT THE BG CITY PARK Activities include camp games & ice breakers and  supervised pool & splash pad play (weather permitting).   In case of  inclement weather, the kids will play games and do  arts & crafts projects at the Veteran’s Building. TERRIFIC TUESDAY AT THE VET BUILDING Kids will learn about the importance of health and   wellness and get some guidance on making healthy choices, and participating in some fitness focused   activities as well as get to play various games. WET & WILD WEDNESDAY AT  THE BG CITY POOL & WATERPARK Supervised pool & splash pad play (weather permitting).   In case of inclement weather, the kids will play indoor games and  watch a movie at the Vet building THRILLER  THURSDAYS AT THE VET BUILDING Kids will decorate cupcakes & cookies according to a theme and get to watch a movie while they enjoy their snack as well as get to play various sports and games. FRIDAY FUNDAY AT THE BG CITY PARK & POOL Kids will play their favorite fun outdoor games like  capture the flag, hide behind a tree, tag, etc. followed by supervised pool & splash pad play (weather  permitting).   In case of inclement weather, the kids will play indoor games and  watch a movie at the Vet building OUR NATURAL WORLD Boys & Girls, Age 6-8 June 11-June 15   9:00am–12pm $51 Resident $60 Nonresident Come explore the natural wonders of the Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve! Our nature camp offers a variety of activities to engage campers in the out-of-doors as they learn about plants and animals through hands-on lessons, hikes, games, and arts and crafts projects. Daily themes will engage the children and focus attention on specific nature subjects. Nature’s Nursery, a local animal wildlife rehabilitation center, will visit with their animal ambassadors and an educational program. SAFETY TOWN Boys & Girls, Age 4.5-6 (who have not attended Kindergarten yet) June 11-June 22  9:00am–12pm 8:00am-10:00am or 10:30am-12:30pm $46 Residents $55 Nonresident Every child needs to go through this program, where they will learn important safety topics while having a blast.  Safety Town is for children ages 4.5 to 6 who have not yet attended kindergarten.  Class does not meet July 4th. SOCCER CAMP Boys & Girls, Age 5-7 June 11-June 15 1:00PM-3:00PM $51 Resident $60 Nonresident Participants will be exposed to the…

Art in the Park shines even under cloudy skies

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of the fourth Art in the Park Friday at Simpson Garden Park. It did deter some, but not all, plein air artists. But others came out in force to entertain the attendees, who grew in number as the two-hour event progressed. The rain that arrived mid-afternoon was receding just as folks arrived. So a trio of musicians were heading out to the gazebo. Alice Calderonello, of the BG Arts Council which staged the event with the city Parks and Recreation Department, said the performers took the changes necessitated by the weather in good spirits, even if it meant they were playing in odd corners, and for a shorter period of time. Still by the time the event was wrapping up, musicians had ventured outdoors, and some visitors had wandered off into the garden to admire the garden’s blooms, which are delayed a bit by the cool, wet spring. Phil Hollenbaugh, the volunteer who tends the extensive hosta garden, was on hand checking the plants. Mayor Dick Edwards said that Bowling Green is second only to Dubuque, Iowa, in the number of hosta varieties in its municipal garden. Hollenbaugh said he has 50 more varieties to plant. But he laughed off any competition between the two cities. He’s always happy when people come into the garden to enjoy the plants. Painter Kim Sockman, one of the three artists to arrive to paint outside in the garden, was as close to the outside as she could be while still being inside. The retired art teacher was near the doorway to the Children’s Discovery Garden. With an eye on the weather Thursday, she came out and snapped a photo of the wooden arch in the area. She worked from that image as well as glancing out at the scene. It was good she got a head start on her work because so many people, including her former art students, stopped to chat she wasn’t get a lot of work done. “This is Bowling Green,” she said. “It’s a blast.” That sense of community also attracted newer arrivals to town. Rachel and Phil Beskid were there with their daughters Sylvia and Lucy, who were busy working on a craft project. The family moved to BG about a year ago, and Art in the Park was a way to connect with the community and feel at home, Phil Beskid said. Holli and Jeremy Luring and their children also moved here in the past year. Holi Luring said they came because of the art and music, and the activities for the kids was a bonus. A variety of art activities were provided by the parks department, the Montessori School of Bowling Green, and Jules Webster, owner of Art Supply Depo. They live nearby, she said. “These are beautiful gardens.” Jeremy Luring said the event with its small town feel was a good way to meet people. Flutist Hong-Da Chin returned to have a chance to improvise music with some friends before he moves out of Bowling Green.  He graduated with his doctorate in contemporary music in December and has a teaching position at Western Illinois University. “I just wanted to improvise with them one last time for a long time.” He was joined in the gazebo by clarinetist Derek Emch and bassist Jenica Georgeson. Emch, who has also played at earlier Art in the Parks, said he enjoys being outside adding to the atmosphere. People can stop and listen as they choose. This was Georgeson’s first time at the event. She appreciated all activities offered,…

BG serving up local pizza at pool, nature paths in park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local pizza at the pool and nature pathways in the parks are just a slice of what Bowling Green City Parks are offering this summer. Forget the former frozen pizza at the pool in City Park. This year, the concession stand will be selling local pizza, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley announced Tuesday during a board meeting. The city received bids from three local pizza shops, so the decision was made to give each business one month at the pool concession stand. The three pizza shops to sell their slices poolside are Pizza Pub 516, Jet’s and Domino’s. Customers are allowed to order concession stand food without paying for entrance to the pool. The pool is scheduled to open this Saturday for the summer season. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held at a shelter house in Carter Park, park naturalist Chris Gajewicz talked about the natural area in the center of Carter Park. While much of the focus at the park is on the baseball fields and Frisbee golf, an area in the park has been allowed to grow up naturally. Paths have been mowed in the woodlot so people can walk through and check out the wildflowers. “It gives Carter Park not just the manicured look,” but also a bit of nature, Gajewicz said. People can often be seen walking through the woodlot. “It shows the power of nature – even the littlest piece of nature can pull them in,” he said. Gajewicz also announced that the recent burn in the nature preserve and birding program offered at Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve were very successful. He also talked about the plants sprouting up in Simpson Garden Park and the healing garden there. “Keep coming out to the gardens, because it’s changing all the time,” he said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, recreation coordinator Ivan Kovacevic talked about the start of several summer park programs. Lunch in the Park kicks off on June 1, and continues every Friday through July in City Park. The annual Art in the Park is set for June 8, from 5 to 7 p.m., in Simpson Garden Park. And Concerts in the Park start on June 10 at Needle Hall in City Park. Also planned is a Farmers Market Mile Fun Run and Vegetable Relay 5K Race on June 13 at 5:30 p.m. The next park and rec board meeting will be June 26, at 7 p.m., in the Girl Scout Building in City Park.

Arts to take over Simpson Garden, June 8

From THE BOWLING GREEN ARTS COUNCIL The Bowling Green Arts Council and Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department will host the 4th annual Art in the Park on the grounds of Simpson Garden Park, 1291 Conneaut Avenue, on Friday, June 8, from 5-7 p.m. Festive fun in a beautiful garden setting with live music, theatrical performances, artists painting on easels, interactive art activities for children and light refreshments. free and open to the public. As they stroll through beautiful Simpson Garden Park, attendees will have an opportunity to view and vote for their favorite artist at work. They will also enjoy music by local musicians and students of the BGSU College of Musical Arts and performances by the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. The Black Swamp Players will present a readers’ theater performance of an excerpt from “Peanuts and Crackerjacks” by Scott Regan at 5:50 in the Amphitheater. Also in the Amphitheater, Horizon Youth Theatre will present two excerpts from the musical “Dorothy in Wonderland” at 5:15 and at 6:30. Strolling and stationary musicians and music groups throughout the grounds will include The Root Cellar String Band; Tom Gorman; Toraigh an Sonas; Inside Voices; Black Swamp Drum Circle; and Kazenodaichi Taiko. Immediately after Art in the Park, the Sunset Bistro, 1220 W. Wooster, will host a post-event celebration from 7-10 pm and donate 15% to the BG Arts Council. This event is sponsored by Bowling Green Arts Council and Bowling Green Parks & Recreation with additional support from Montessori School of Bowling Green, the Art Supply Depo of Bowling Green, the BGSU Fine Arts Galleries, the BGSU School of Music, and Sunset Bistro.

Bigfoot believers or Sasquatch skeptics? Keep an open mind

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Marc DeWerth gave people the courage to come out of the closet on Saturday – and admit that Bigfoot might really be out there. DeWerth, a Bigfoot investigator for three decades, was a skeptic for many of those years. But then it happened. He was out looking for a badger den when he heard what he thought was a cougar tracking him. He soon realized the creature following him was walking on two feet. To this day, DeWerth remembers everything about the encounter on April 20, 1997, at 4:06 p.m., near Wills Creek in the Coshocton area. He remembers the towering black hairy figure that he had been hoping to find for years. But when he was standing there and made eye contact with the Bigfoot, all DeWerth could do was hope that the creature would leave. On Saturday, DeWerth talked about sightings all over the nation of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti – whatever the regional name is for the elusive creature. A guest of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, he spoke at the Simpson Park Building to a packed room of believers, skeptics and people everywhere in between. “Most people will give you the stink eye,” when he starts talking about Bigfoot, DeWerth said. “Skepticism is healthy.” “I was a skeptic. There was never a shred of evidence,” he said of his early investigation efforts. “I’m thinking these people are lunatics.” But after interviewing 335 people who have claimed sightings, many of them very credible, DeWerth is a true believer. “Bigfoot is alive and well,” he said. But don’t expect to see one in your backyard – unless you live in the hills and hollers of places like southeastern Ohio. Throughout history, many totem poles carved by Native Americans included ape-like creatures, though no such animal is documented in North America. The adult Bigfoot range from 6 to 10 feet tall, and weigh between 350 and 1,200 pounds. “The big ones are huge,” DeWerth said. They are nomadic and move with food sources – whether that is deer, livestock or family dogs. Piles of deer and calves carcasses have been discovered in woods, thought to be left by Bigfoots, he said. Massive footprints and hunks of hair have been found, but for those looking for hard evidence – such as the carcass of a dead Bigfoot – that just isn’t going to happen, DeWerth surmised. But that doesn’t mean that Sasquatch isn’t real, he said. “How often do you find a dead bear,” he asked. “You don’t. Do bears exist?” “Have an open mind,” he said. “The chance of seeing Bigfoot is slim to none,” with the chance of winning a massive lottery payout much more likely. But that doesn’t mean the search shouldn’t been attempted. “Let’s go ‘squatchin’,” DeWerth said to his audience. A standard “squatch pack” should include a 12-inch ruler so footprint photos have a standard measurement, walkie-talkie, 10-foot tape measurer, water, snakebite kit, extra socks, camera, extra batteries, hat, rain parka, and protein bars. No dogs, since they can easily become a snack for a Bigfoot, he said. Before the internet, DeWerth would use newspaper ads to try to contact people who had encountered Bigfoot. Though many were less than credible, others were very believable, he said. DeWerth shared stories from a U.S. Forest Service worker in Harrison State Forest, who was tapping trees to see if they were healthy, and marking dead trees to be removed, when she heard something tapping back on trees. After several loud tree taps, she saw the source – a…

Big year at BG parks – bubble soccer, Bigfoot & more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bigfoot, bubble soccer and birthday party packages are part the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department’s plans for 2018. Those, of course, are among the more click-worthy items planned. There are also the more humdrum items like policy reviews, paving, and painting at the pool. On Tuesday evening, the parks and recreation board reviewed accomplishments from 2017 and goals for 2018. The accomplishments included adding more youth and family fitness programs, making parks more accessible to people with disabilities, repairing the stone wall around City Park, paving more trails at Simpson Garden Park, beginning two-acre prairie expansion behind the Community Center, and adding to the splashpad at the pool. “We got a lot done in 2017,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. The goals for this year include: Demolish the Veterans Building, Scout Building and Depot in City Park and replace it with one new building. Expand youth and family fitness programs. Start bubble soccer league. Expand birthday party packages. Start programs for adult birding and adult nature study. Level and reseed turf in open area at Ridge Park. Continue paving trails at Simpson Garden Park. Continue to expand hosta garden to 1,000 different species. Continue to expand outdoor obstacle course behind community center. Offer aqua spinning class at the pool. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Otley presented numbers of people participating in various park programs. The total number of people attending park and recreation events last year was 18,591. “It’s pretty neat to look at that. I feel great about that,” Otley said. Jeff Crawford, president of the park and rec board, complimented Otley and her team for reaching that number. “Congratulations. I’m actually staggered at these numbers,” Crawford said. Following are some of the events and numbers presented: 3,906 attended community special events, like the Brown Bag Music Series, Frostbite Run, Art in the Park, pet show, concerts and lunches in the park. 7,519 attended adult and youth fitness programs. 389 attended adult sports programs, like volleyball and basketball leagues. 135 attended adult recreation events, like the Adult Egg Scramble. 468 attended youth and family events, like the Daddy-Daughter Dance, Pint Size Prom, BG Zombie Mud Run and Breakfast with Santa. 498 attended day camps and days off school programs. 1,662 attended youth sports programs, like dodgeball, soccer, basketball, softball, tennis and volleyball. 523 attended youth swimming lessons. 2,744 attended natural resources programming at Wintergarden Park. 612 attended programs at Simpson Garden Park. 135 attended archery programs. Otley also reported on the number of people using the Community Center. Daily visits logged in last year totaled 97,262. The multipurpose room was used 820 times, and the cycle room was used 288 times. The total fitness program participants added up to 8,559. The gyms were reserved and used 1,022 times for events such as pickle ball, youth camps, National Guard, and family events. Most of those numbers are not reflected in the daily swipes at the center, since people don’t need to enter their membership card to attend those programs. The classroom space was used 112 times, and the Wood Lane Special Olympics gym was reserved 262 times. The National Guard holds 11 drill weekends and one family readiness night a year at the center. So, a low estimate for the number of visits to the center last year is 126,695, Otley said. “This is a community center and is being used as a community center,” she said. A task force has been formed to look at the use of the community center, with some concerns being…

BG Healing Garden to get some doctoring of its own

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some doctoring of the Healing Garden is planned for next year in Simpson Garden Park. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation recently donated $27,500 for concrete work at the Healing Garden to make it accessible to all. That work will be part of a complete redesign of the garden, Park Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz told the city’s park and recreation board Tuesday evening. The Healing Garden is located on the far east end of the Simpson Garden Park, with access from Wood County Hospital. In the past, the garden has had more of a medieval medicine garden feel, Gajewicz said. But next spring, the garden will be replanted to have a more holistic philosophy. “There will be more of a mind, body and spirit approach to it,” he said. “It will be less of a curiosity and more interactive.” For example, the plantings will include some “interactive thyme,” that will generate a calming scent as people walk through or even recline in it. “We want the garden to be less of a walk-by,” Gajewicz said. Programming outside of gardening may include relaxation, Tai Chi, yoga and other forms of exercise that are low impact but would benefit from a garden surrounding. The area will promote peace and calm and will have a collection of healing plants and trees to provide shade in the otherwise open sunlight environment, according to Gajewicz. In other business at the board meeting Tuesday evening, a letter from a soccer coach was read by Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley. The letter told of the impact the park and recreation’s D-League soccer program had on one family. The coach said he was recently approached by a mother, who said her foster daughter had come from an exceptionally difficult background, was very shy and rarely spoke or showed emotion. The mother, who was visibly moved, said she wanted to get the girl involved in an activity and saw the notice about the soccer league. She didn’t know anything about soccer or the league, but signed up her daughter. According to the letter, the mom saw a transformation in the girl. “She loved soccer and loved playing with the other kids, and was so excited to hear when it was a day of practice or games.” “To think we can have this kind of positive influence over the child’s life is extremely humbling,” the coach wrote. “This is only one story, and although others might not be as intense, I know we are having a very positive impact on these children.” Also at the meeting, it was reported that: Work on the nature center at Wintergarden Park should be complete by the end of this year. The Zombie Mud Run had 184 participants this year. The next park and recreation board meeting will be Dec. 5, at 7 p.m., in the Simpson Garden Park Building.

Zombies to stalk runners in obstacle course event

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As if the muddy obstacle course isn’t hard enough, a bunch of moaning zombies will be on the prowl again for the second annual Zombie Mud Run. At the conclusion of last year’s event, participants had a suggestion – more zombies. So Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, hopes to double the number of zombies this year. Each contestant starts out the run with three flags on a flag football belt. The goal of the runners is to complete the one-mile course with at least one flag left to be deemed a “survivor.” The goal of the zombies is to rip off the flags, leaving the participant “infected.” Last year, about 150 people participated, with ages ranging from 5 to 74. Kovacevic is hoping for even more this year. The event is Oct. 22, with registration starting at 1 p.m., at the Bowling Green Community Center. Participants will be divided up with ages 5 to 12 and some parents in the first heat, followed by heats of ages 13 and older. Kovacevic, a fan of “The Walking Dead,” TV series, said the zombies add an extra thrill to the course. “Obstacles courses are becoming one of the fastest growing fitness trends,” he said. So why not throw in some zombies? “Get that adrenaline flowing right off the bat.” In addition to the zombie threat, there are also a lot of man-made and natural obstacles along the course located behind the community center. There’s a 5-foot climbing wall, balance beams, a bungee cord obstacle, tire pyramid, log hurdles, trenches full of water, an Army crawling obstacle, a tunnel, and plenty of mud. The “zombified” humans along the course are students from the Bowling Green High School DECA program. Last year there were 35 to 40 of them. But upon request, Kovacevic has boosted the blood thirsty predators. “We’re hoping to have about 80 zombies,” he said. “It’s really a cool collaboration,” Kovacevic said about working with the DECA students, who get some experience working with the business community for donations as well. “Instead of just working on theoretical projects, they get to see one put into action,” he said. A BGHS art class also created art for the Zombie Mud Run T-shirts, with the winning entry showing a green arm emerging from the mud and grabbing a runner’s leg. Though the zombies are intended to spook the runners, Kovacevic stressed that the course won’t be too scary for young ones. “We will have surprises along the way,” but nothing like chainsaws, he said. “It’s definitely family-friendly.” And the course itself, while muddy, has no features like barbed wire. “It’s a beginners’ level course, but the zombies add a challenge to it,” Kovacevic said. Participants may register up to the day of the event. The cost is $20 for ages 5 to 12, and $25 for 13 and older. More information may be obtained by calling Kovacevic at 419-354-6223.