Mt. Sterling Parks and Rec Offers Activities Year Round
When Carol Rushing-Carr approached the Mt. Sterling/Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Department about starting an alternative summer day camp for kids with developmental delays and learning disabilities‚ the department quickly added the specialty camp to its long list of programs and services for the community. "They really try to meet the needs‚ interests and abilities of residents here. There seems to be something for everyone to enjoy throughout the year‚" says Rushing-Carr‚ an occupational therapist who oversees the four-week camp staffed by volunteer medical professionals each July. In addition to summer camps and sports programs for children‚ the parks and recreation department also provides a variety of unique special events and activities tailored to the interests of the community. At Easy Walker Park‚ a 74-acre recreational park on the northeast side of town‚ festivals such as the Gospel Music Jubilee - a series of gospel music concerts - attract scores of music fans from Montgomery and surrounding counties during the summer and fall months. Throughout the holiday season‚ Easy Walker Park is also the site of Christmas in the Park‚ a celebration of lights and holiday spirit. Each year‚ the opening night of the festival draws thousands for a community-wide tree-decorating competition‚ free hot cocoa and pictures with Santa Claus and live reindeer. "Not many towns this size have a parks system and programs like we do here‚" says Donna Amburgey‚ who participates in the tree-decorating competition each year. "We have the opportunity to enjoy the company of our neighbors and the beauty of the outdoors at fun events year-round." Several programs provide unforgettable learning opportunities for children. Fishing with Gene is a series of group fishing lessons and contests‚ and the Touch a Truck program gives children a chance to gain hands-on‚ supervised experience with fire trucks and construction vehicles. Due to the popularity of programs at Easy Walker Park‚ the Parks and Recreation Department recently broke ground for Easy Walker Park II‚ a new 34-acre recreational park adjacent to the existing park. A 1.5-mile track with workout stations has already been installed while additional baseball‚ soccer and basketball facilities are under construction. "I am very confident that Mt. Sterling has some of the most elaborate and best managed programs and parks in the state‚" says Robert Carolin‚ executive director of the Mt. Sterling/Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Department. "What we do in the community goes a long way toward improving the quality of life for people who live here‚ and that’s mighty rewarding."