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Kids to Parks Day is Saturday

Several area parks will host activities

-Messenger file photo
Traeton Baker swings with help from Jessica Ferry, at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park in May 2018.

This weekend, with mild temperatures in the forecast, will be a popular time for local families to check out their local city, county and state parks. Saturday is National Kids to Parks Day, an annual celebration to encourage play that connects kids and families with parks.

Each year, Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department teams up with Webster County Conservation to plan a weekend of action at the parks.

“We want to encourage people to get out and explore new areas,” said Webster County Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove. “A lot of times, we continue to go back to the same areas — we’re kind of creatures of habit — and this provides opportunities to get people out into different areas that maybe they’re not familiar with.”

Webster County Conservation and the Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department are sponsoring a park and play scavenger hunt this weekend. Families can download a scavenger hunt scorecard and instructions at https://bit.ly/3PvkQFi. Hidden “scavenger words” can be found at Camp WaNoKi, Henderson River Access in Kalo, Prairie Pond outside of Duncombe, the Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Trail in Phinney Park, Schmoker Park and Loomis Park.

Prizes include a basket full of outdoor fun, a Family Day pass for Fort Frenzy and a two-night stay at a yurt at Kennedy Park.

-Messenger file photo
Kliegh Seltz, left, reaches up to join Violet Buechler and Daniel Mericle with help from Jessica Mericle, on an outing with a 3- to 4-year-old preschool group in May 2018. John F. Kennedy Memorial Park is one of six locations for a Kids To Parks scavenger hunt this weekend.

“One of the unique things about Iowa is that we have state, city and county parks, so we have a lot of opportunity for park space,” Cosgrove said. “I’m obviously connected to parks. Having grown up in the area, I have a connection to Dolliver State Park and Snell-Crawford Park in Fort Dodge. I spent a lot of time as a kid growing up there.”

Those are the kinds of family memories Cosgrove hopes events like Kids to Parks Day can create for area families.

“They bring their kids back and their grandkids back and have multi-generations of people experiencing these same parks and recreational opportunities together,” Cosgrove said.

Clark Bruno, aquatics and program coordinator for the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, said Kids to Parks Day gives families something fun to do over the weekend, to “unplug from the daily grind.”

“We hope that it brings families together,” he said.

-Messenger file photo
Kids play on the newly-installed playscape at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park when it opened in June 2017.

Cosgrove said Kids to Parks Day is a great time for families to see new features that have been added to various parks throughout recent years.

“The playscape at Kennedy Park is newer,” he said. “Over in the Veterans Park, there have been different monuments added. And over in the Children’s Forest we’ve added our story trail so we have a seasonal story that changes out over there.”

Cosgrove also mentioned the new work on the trail system at Camp WaNoKi, as well as the new Henderson River Access Site on the Des Moines River in Kalo between Coalville and Otho, will be great spots to visit this weekend.

“The partnership with Fort Dodge Park and Recreation has been a valuable partnership for us over the years and anytime we can get families and kids out in our parks is a good thing,” Cosgrove said.

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