ANKENY, Iowa (July 9, 2008) — Nearly 600 residents of all ages ventured out to Hawkeye and Wagner Parks on Tuesday night for Ankeny's first annual All-City Play Day, an event designed to encourage free and unstructured play.
"This is a great way to showcase our parks and to encourage healthy lifestyles through active play," said Ankeny Mayor Steve Van Oort.
Twenty activity stations were set up throughout the city's two most prominent community parks and included a wide range of sports, arts and fun. Each of the activity stations were staffed by volunteers, including the mayor and city council, park board members and city staff. Many of the stations were "mini" with small versions of practice play in kicking a soccer or football, throwing basketballs or hitting tennis balls over the net. The Iowa National Guard brought a portable climbing wall and Polk County Conservation provided canoes that were sailed in Hawkeye Pond. The Lakeside Center hosted a "Salty & Sweat" event for older residents that included indoor games like Dominos and UNO. Canine Craze, a local dog training organization, showcased the skills of several local dogs. Artists young and old could chalk the sidewalk. One of the evening's hot spots featured a Home Depot Workshop where amateur craftsmen could try their hand at assembling small wood projects. Participants were rewarded with prizes including bright red Frisbees, Playful City USA kazoos and plenty of refreshments.
Ankeny's All City Play Day is a continuation of the City's commitment to play at any age and in recognition of Ankeny's designation as a Playful City USA founding member from the KaBOOM! Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that promotes play within walking distance of every child in America.
Original plans called for a statewide event where communities would host simultaneous play days, coordinated by the Iowa Parks & Recreation Association (IPRA) and spearheaded by the City of Ankeny. The heavy rainfall experienced throughout Iowa communities this spring required the initiative to be scaled back this year.
"Ankeny understands the importance of play even in times of hardship and continues to reach out to Iowa communities hit hard by this year's flooding," said Todd Redenius, director of parks and recreation.
The goal would be to host a statewide event next year with communities across Iowa participating.