By Kelly Kelbly, Parks & Recreation Assistant Director
In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to more event and activity cancellations than most people experience in an entire lifetime. Large gatherings in tight spaces were just too risky.
Terms such as unprecedented, super-spreader, and social distancing became part of our everyday conversations. Parks & Recreation professionals were left questioning our “new normal” role, which we all hoped was temporary and short-lived.
But the human spirit and innate need for social interaction revealed innovative ways through the difficulty. We witnessed in our park system a testament to our fundamental mission of enhancing the community’s quality of life.
Families and friends began to take daily walks on nature trails and picnic at their neighborhood parks. We worked together to determine safe ways to gather, creating an essential need for large, reservable outdoor spaces for socially distanced groups.
When the city developed the first phase of Wolf Pen Creek Park in the early 1990s, it never envisioned that 30 years later, open spaces would provide a safe venue for events and gatherings during a global pandemic. The 63-acre park’s beautiful trail system has become a favorite place to enjoy the fresh air and get much-needed exercise.
The park also boasts an open amphitheater with lawn seating for 7,000, a large festival site, a disc golf course, multiple restrooms, and a rentable Green Room. In a typical year, those facilities play host to 40 or more public and private events.
In 2020, we had only 13 events at the amphitheater and festival site. Most came before the pandemic shut everything down in March, but some were later in the year after we devised safe protocols.
We’re much more optimistic about 2021. It’s only April, and we already have 20 events under contract — with more in the planning stages. Our Parks & Recreation team is delighted to work alongside organizers and welcome events back to such a fantastic community asset.
With the end of the pandemic possibly on the horizon, we’re hopeful we can restart our daily lives, including the pleasures and joys of Wolf Pen Creek and the rest of College Station’s fabulous parks. Whether you stroll the trails or work with staff on your next large-scale event, we’re eager to serve you.
If you’re looking to host an event — from a birthday party to a festival — we’re happy to walk you through those options. Contact us anytime at 979-764-3486.
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