From the World of Parks and Rec
By Doug Comer

As we are inching our way towards the end of the school year, we are warming up the cones, footballs, whiffle balls and all other necessity for field days. Harrison Parks and Recreation has played a role in people at even my age, with field day events and the department will be in full motion in the coming weeks.

In my days at Hartman Grade School, we would walk eight blocks to NVAC field in North View for a fun-filled day of relay races, football throws and many other competitions. While the staff from parks and rec kept tally of the points for the day, we were able to find out who the best grade in the school was that day. It was always a great competition no matter the game and the day was capped off with the tug o’ war.

That was the era where parents, who could get away from work, would come and help with organization, planning and of course, food committee. And for some reason, the day would be perfect as the sun shined and the ground was dry, thus making ideal conditions for the competition. Fast forward 30-some years later, and you still see the excitement for those who participate.

“We have played a big part in school field days for many, many years and games have evolved over that time frame,” said Director Mike Book. “The basic game of Tag has turned into games like Octopus Tag or Toilet Tag as all have the same purpose of the game, but the second chance has been added with the games of today. We still have the races and team games like kick ball and others, but the events have definitely changed since my early years hosting field day events.”

While the weather is a huge factor in the success of the event, staffing has been a concern as well. Many schools scheduled their events on the same day as others and this makes things a little tight on staffing. For instance, we have a minimum of three schools having field days the third week of May. And whether we are there to run the show or for support for teachers, we need to make sure that we have plenty on hand as Book explains.

“We have our regular full time staff that takes a group of employees to different sites for the field days, however, we need a few more than some of the regular part time staff that helps during the enrichments. But, what is good for us, is the college kids that work during our summer parks program gets out of school for the semester and they can fill in spots where  needed. They have the experience and they do a great job in making the day great for the school.”

Now, while we do have a couple days on the calendar where we have the entire school for a field day, mostly we help just one or two grades. However, Nutter Fort for example, has their Kindergarten class scheduled towards the end of the month and they have eight classes. So we will have to cater to probably 160 kids for just that one particular group. Obviously, we will have to beef up staffing for that field day.

Field days have always been a staple during the school year. It lets us know that the school year is about to end and it is a day where recreation trumps education for the day. Most importantly, it is a day where the kids can cut loose and use some energy for the day and have some fun in the process.