June 27, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 10

Parks and recreation month encourages outdoor activity

The month of July is a time to get outdoors, and Airway Heights is seizing the opportunity to highlight the many parks in the city.

Throughout the entire month, various events will take place in Airway Heights in coordination with the Parks and Recreation Department. At the heart of the month’s celebration is a poster contest for city residents, centering around the theme “I (heart) my Parks and Rec.”

Recreation assistant Glen Horton said residents can upload a photo or video with them and one of the posters to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department Facebook page. The post with the most Likes by Friday, July 26, will win a family pack of tickets to Village Centre Cinemas. Posters are available at the Parks and Recreation Department in the community center.

Throughout the month, the department will host a variety of events that fit well with any age group. Kicking it off is a game of capture the flag at Sunset Park, Saturday, July 6 beginning at 10 a.m.

Saturday, July 20 marks the first of what Horton hopes will be an annual event: the Heights Shootout Competition. During the event, players try to make as many basketball shots as they can in 60 seconds from marked spots around the court.

“We’re giving it a test drive this year,” Horton said.

The cost for the Heights Shootout is $12 per player, and the event is open to anyone, not just residents of Airway Heights. Participants registering prior to the day of the event will receive a T-shirt. The winner of each age division bracket will also receive a prize.

The final event in July will be the Parks and Recreation Celebration Saturday, July 27. Last year the event drew between 200-300 residents. Horton hopes this year’s event will continue to grow, with the help of high quality events and some community fun.

Among the highlights of the celebration include meals, catered by the Airway Heights Baptist Church, games and music.

A dunk tank will also help the Rotary Club of Spokane – West chapter fund the purchase of a splash pad for the park. The chapter has set a goal of $165,000 to purchase the water feature, and has partnered with various other groups to help raise funds.

For $1, attendees at the July 27 celebration can try their best to dunk community members. Among those includes Mayor Patrick Rushing, who volunteered to take the plunge in the dunk tank at the last City Council meeting.

The events were created with the intent of drawing residents of all ages to meet members of the community and spend time together outdoors. It’s also a push to encourage the younger generation to unplug the video games for a little bit and suggest some active outdoor recreation.

“We want to get people to come out to the parks,” Horton said. “It doesn’t just have to be the kids.”

As a child growing up outside of Airway Heights, Horton said he would have enjoyed a month set aside for a city to take part in games and activities throughout the summer.

“I would’ve loved it if I could have had something like this,” he said.

Horton is an intern with the Parks and Recreation Department this summer, and the entire month’s activities have largely been his brainchild.

“It’s been a good learning process for me,” he said.

The month of July serves as a sort of precursor to the Airway Heights Festival, held over the course of Aug. 23 and 24 in Sunset Park. Car shows, food vendors, a kids zone and numerous musical acts will keep attendees plenty busy as the mid-summer weather heats up. It also marks the third year of the annual watermelon race, where residents face each other in pursuit of a championship plaque. Businesses are also a part of the event, and have their own tournament seed.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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