Parks and Recreation

5 awesome things to discover in our beautiful parks

By Hallie Hutchins, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant

“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder

What better way to celebrate Parks & Recreation Month in July than to explore the beautiful parks that significantly enhance our community’s quality of life.

With College Station’s 50 developed parks covering more than 1,300 acres, we have plenty of room and activities for everyone.

Need some suggestions? Here are five free activities for you to consider this month:

1. Gaga Ball and Splash Pad

>>> W. A. Tarrow Park, 1000 Eleanor St.

College Station Parks and Recreation offers more than 60 play units in our city parks, but this one leaves you especially gaga. Everyone’s going gaga over gaga – but what is it?

Gaga is a fast-paced, high-energy sport played in an octagonal pit. It’s a kinder, gentler version of dodgeball that combines the skills of dodging, striking, running and jumping. Participants try to hit opponents below the knees with a soft foam ball. Players must keep moving to avoid getting hit. It’s fun and easy and provides a serious workout.  The more players, the better!

After your gaga game, you can go cool off at the free outdoor splash pad. The fun, brightly colored tipping buckets and directional spray areas safely entertain kids of all ages. The fully accessible splash pad is open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays and noon-8 p.m. on weekends through Labor Day.

2. Picnics

>>> Stephen C. Beachy Central Park, 1000 Krenek Tap Rd.

What better way to enjoy nature than going on a simple picnic?

Stephen C. Beach Central Park offers lots of green space to enjoy an outdoor meal. You can set up a classic picnic under the trees by the pond and watch the ducks and fishers, sit beneath the gazebo, or use a picnic table and cookout on the barbeque pit. The park also offers a covered pavilion with restrooms.

The most beautiful thing about a picnic is its versatility. You can make it simple or sophisticated with many days of planning or quickly pack the essentials for some impromptu fun.

Of course, there’s more to picnicking than just eating, and Central Park has plenty of fun activities. You can play a pickup game on the basketball courts, or play sand volleyball, flag football, soccer or frisbee on the athletic fields. The park also has a pair of lighted tennis courts, a play unit for the little ones, a one-mile walking trail, and two ponds stocked with plenty of hungry fish.

3. Trails

>>> Veterans Memorial Mile & Lynn Stuart Pathway, 3101 Harvey Rd.

The Veterans Memorial Mile is a mile-long path that reveals our military history through 700 brick pavers embedded in the sidewalk. Where else can you get a vivid history lesson while exercising in a beautiful setting? A trip around the loop provides a year-to-year historical progression.

The Lynn Stuart Pathway is a half-mile walking path through a wooded, shaded area that features a series of historically correct bronze statues. The interpretive panels and statues provide strong visual representations of the brave veterans who fought in battles throughout our nation’s history.

We encourage you to get off the beaten path and explore our more than 30 miles of nature and jogging/walking trails.

4. Dog Parks

>>> Barracks Park, 205 Capps Dr.

Oh, the dog days of summer!

Take your canine companion out for some summer fun at Barracks Park, a fenced-in recreational area with benches and a covered shelter for owners to relax while their pups play. You’ll need to keep them hydrated with the fountains at the side of the park.

>>> Lick Creek Park, 13600 East Rock Prairie Rd.

With five miles of wooded trails to conquer, Lick Creek is for owners and dogs that prefer a little adventure.

>>> Steeplechase Park, 301 Westridge Dr.

Steeplechase is the perfect playground to release than pent-up summer energy with play units for the kids and a fenced-in area for your pup.

>>> University Park, 300 Park Rd.

University Park has opportunities for both small and large dogs with separate fenced-in play areas. It also has a walkway through the woods that leads to a large pond. Let them cool off, jump in the water for a swim, and frolic with the other dogs.

5. Instagrammable Photos

College Station’s parks do much more than enhance our quality of life and provide recreation and leisure activities. They’re also ideal places to raise your Instagram game.

After all, if you didn’t take a picture, did it really happen? Even if you have lived here for years, you will find a plethora of picture-worthy treasures, hidden gems, and overlooked sweet spots to capture on camera.

Here are a few of “Instagrammable” hot spots to get you started:

>>> Brison Park, 400 Dexter Dr.

Tucked in the Southside Historic District just a few blocks from the A&M campus is nine-acre Brison Park, a neighborhood oasis that might be the most beautiful and serene green spot in our entire parks system. Acquired in 1947, it’s among our oldest parks and is full of historic character with 100-year-old oak trees, a seasonal stream, and gently rolling hills.

>>> Gabbard Park, 1201 Dexter Dr.

Gabbard Park has all the elements to supply beautiful photography backdrops. You can find flowers and trees blooming with color, classic park benches overlooking a pond occupied by paddling ducks, a walking bridge, and a winding, lighted trail.

>>> Lick Creek Park, 13600 East Rock Prairie Rd.

Many people consider the 515-acre Lick Creek Park to be the crown jewel of College Station’s park system. As the area’s premier nature preserve, Lick Creek displays a variety of native plant and animal species, including the endangered Navasota Ladies Tresses. The park has five miles of marked trails and opportunities for hiking, cycling, bird watching, equestrian activities, and nature study. Lick Creek is a nature lover’s dream.

Take advantage of Parks and Recreation Month and discover something awesome right here in College Station!

 


About the Blogger

Hallie Hutchins is in her fourth year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 with a degree in sports management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.


 

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Podcast: Bridget Russell, College Station’s Pool Shark

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

May is Water Safety Month, which obviously highlights the importance of knowing how to swim and how to watch family and friends when at the lake or at the pool.

In this podcast, College Station Pools Supervisor Bridget Russell talks about the challenges she and her staff face, how they’re not to be considered babysitters, and how you can stay safe this summer.

Total run time: 26:01

  • 00:00 — Show open
  • 01:52 — About Adamson Lagoon
  • 02:53 — About Bridget
  • 04:26 — A pool supervisor does…everything.
  • 05:53 — How tough is it to get teens to be lifeguards?
  • 07:30 — Why is Water Safety Month so important?
  • 08:49 — Bridget does lakes and pools WAY different than the rest of us.
  • 09:48 — How people enjoy water has changed: “Flat water” is out.
  • 11:05 — About CS’s two OTHER pools (Hallaran, Thomas)
  • 13:20 — Habits of parents are different now
  • 14:54 — We are NOT babysitters!
  • 16:33 — Teaching adults to swim, too.
  • 18:22 — CS Baby Boomers still love the water
  • 19:40 — Resources for keeping your family safe in and around the water
  • 20:50 — Weird things at the pool (Spoiler alert: POOP)
  • 22:52 — Final thoughts + upcoming events and essential tips.

 

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his ninth year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


 

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Texas Weekend of Remembrance to honor our fallen

By Gabby Salazar, Tourism Events Supervisor

While other cities in Texas are known for space exploration, kolaches, and live music, College Station has a well-earned reputation for its enthusiastic support for our nation’s armed forces, especially our veterans.

After all, College Station happens to be home to Texas A&M University, which produces more officers than any institution besides the military academies and maintains a 2,000-member Corps of Cadets. More than 1,400 veterans were enrolled at the university last fall.

That makes College Station a natural venue for a Memorial Day weekend event designed for Texans to pay their respects and honor the servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives for our country.

The inaugural Texas Weekend of Remembrance will be May 25-27 (Friday-Sunday) at Veterans Park & Athletic Complex. Our goal is to grow the event into an annual Memorial Day mainstay for military members, veterans, their families and the public to remember the fallen.

The commemoration begins Friday, May 25 with softball and flag football teams dedicating their competition to fallen soldiers. The tournaments are coordinated by Heroes Sports, an organization that supports service members and veterans by providing ways to maintain active lifestyles, bond through teamwork, and become active in their communities.

The weekend officially starts Saturday with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. The schedule includes a motorcade, parachute jump, presentation of colors, rifle salute, and roll call with a ship bell from the USS Kearsarge, which served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez, Jr. (Ret.), commandant of the Corps of Cadets, will provide opening remarks, and Maj. Gen. Paul T. Calvert of Fort Hood will give the keynote speech.

Since good music has a unique way of bringing people together, we’ve invited some outstanding artists to entertain our visitors. Saturday’s opening act (6 p.m.) is the Scooter Brown Band, which will be followed by Joe Nichols and Jamey Johnson. On Sunday beginning at 2:15 p.m., Cody Wayne and Aaron Watson will perform.

Before Sunday’s concerts, join us at 8 a.m. for the kid’s mile fun-run and the 5K run/walk. All proceeds will benefit Brazos Valley Cares for the support of veterans and their families who experience financial hardship. After the races, a free breakfast will be provided by the West End Elixir Company at the American Pavilion. Chaplain Benjamin T. Mayhugh of the U.S. Coast Guard will be the speaker.

Concessions will be available for purchase throughout the weekend, with part of the proceeds donated to the Texas A&M University Veterans Resource & Support Center to assist with scholarships. No outside food, drinks or pets are allowed, but you may bring plastic water bottles. Ample parking is available on-site.

The Texas Weekend of Remembrance embraces the tradition and history College Station is known for by highlighting Memorial Day weekend events and related facilities around the community.

For a complete schedule of events and other information, go to cstx.gov/TWR or call 979-764-3486.

 


About the Blogger

Tourism Events Supervisor Gabby Salazar is in her third year with the City of College Station. Before joining the city staff, she was the night manager at Texas A&M’s Reed Arena. A product of A&M’s sports management program, Gabby earned her bachelor’s degree in 2014 and is working toward her master’s. A native of Alamo, she was also a member of the Aggies’ nationally-ranked track and cross country teams.


 

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The ever-popular Games of Texas returns in July

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

The Games of Texas may not be the Olympics, but it may be the next best thing, at least in the Lone Star state. As the state’s largest amateur sporting event, the popular festival provides an exceptional forum for the state’s Olympic hopefuls – along with recreational amateur athletes – to train and compete.

The Texas Amateur Athletic Federation’s 2018 Games of Texas will be July 26-29 at premier venues across Bryan-College Station. The City of College Station, in collaboration with the City of Bryan and Texas A&M, is playing host for the sixth time after conducting the event in 1988, 1994, 2000, 2014, and 2015. We’ll be the host city again next year.

The Olympic-style competitions afford Texans of all ages and skill levels a wholesome avenue for positive, personal development through sports and physical activity. Scheduled events are archery, pickleball, judo, lifeguarding, boxing, golf, skateboarding, soccer, bowling, swimming, tennis, sand volleyball, skeet shooting and track and field.

The event has steadily grown since it began in San Antonio in 1986. We expect more than 20,000 visitors with about 1,500 local volunteers helping us out.

You can be part of this world-class festival by either competing or volunteering.

To register as a competitor, go to taaf.com/gamesoftexas. Some eligibility restrictions apply, and registration deadlines vary per sport.

Volunteers must be at least 15 years old and will receive free refreshments and a Games of Texas shirt. For more information, visit taaf.com/volunteers by July 12.

About TAAF

TAAF is a non-profit organization established in 1925 to promote and organize amateur athletics across the state. Members include parks and recreation departments, along with individuals and organizations that contribute time, energy and effort toward producing successful amateur athletic events.

TAAF is proud to be recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as an Official State Games Program participant every year since 1991.

For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 979-764-3486 or parks@cstx.gov.

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About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt (@kneztalk) has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 14 years, the last seven as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.


 

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Family-friendly Starlight Music Series enters 17th year

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

For 17 years, the Starlight Music Series has attracted lovers of all types of music to enjoy free, family-friendly entertainment under the stars at the beautiful Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater.

The 2018 Starlight Music Series begins May 5, followed by shows on May 19, June 2 and June 9. Families, friends, and visitors are invited to bring their picnic baskets, coolers, blankets and lawn chairs for four Saturday nights of rockin’ fun.

Gates open for each concert at 6 p.m. and the shows start at 7. Free parking is available at Post Oak Mall, with handicap parking located off Colgate Drive. Pets are not allowed.

Here’s the entertaining lineup:

May 5: Bri Bagwell with guest Reagan Quinn
A four-time Texas female vocalist of the year, Bri Bagwell is a contemporary artist with a honky-tonk heart. She has steered clear of the Nashville star-making machine and works without a manager or a record contract, earning fans through extensive touring and independently released recordings.

May 19: Infinite Journey with guest Cherry Bomb
Infinite Journey is an international Journey tribute band based in Dallas that has played high-energy shows across the country since 2012. The five-piece group delivers a musically immersive Journey experience, focusing on the overall sound, solos, and soaring vocals that made Journey so iconic.

June 2: Hotel California
Traveling all the way from Canada, Hotel California is North America’s best tribute to The Eagles. They look and sound like The Eagles and are the next best thing. Covering all of the favorites from “Take it Easy” to “Life in the Fast Lane” and even “Hotel California.”

June 9: Cupid & The Dance Party Express with guest Mi’chel Rose & Zydeco Players
Louisiana-born R&B vocalist Bryson Bernard, popularly known as Cupid, first sang in his church choir and was encouraged by his pastor father. Cupid shuffled his way into hearts of millions with an up-tempo party song “Cupid Shuffle,” which also inspired the popular dance craze of the same name.

Refreshments

You may bring refreshments, but no kegs or glass containers are allowed, and coolers must be 48 quarts or smaller. Concessions are available for purchase.

Seating & Smoking

Chairs are welcome but not in designated blanket-only seating areas. Smoking is not allowed in the main seating area, but we provide two designated smoking areas.

For more information, go to cstx.gov/starlight or contact the Parks & Recreation Department at parks@cstx.gov or 979.764.3486.

We’ll see you under the stars!

 


About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt (@kneztalk) has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 14 years, the last seven as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.


 

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Explore with Dinosaur George Saturday at Lick Creek

By Hallie Hutchins, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant 

Few ideas get kids — and former Aggie turned Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett — more excited than dinosaurs. Children have a seemingly endless fascination with these dangerous yet majestic, fierce yet lovable prehistoric creatures.

Maybe it’s never actually encountering a dinosaur that makes them so intriguing, or their legendary size, or even the illustrated stories that so vividly bring them to life. A child’s natural curiosity about dinosaurs creates an ideal opening to teach them about biology, history, and scientific thinking.

On Saturday, the City of College Station Parks & Recreation Department invites dinomaniacs to spend the day at Lick Creek Nature Center with the Dinosaur George Traveling Museum. Dinosaur George treks back to the Jurassic to experience enormous, prehistoric dinosaurs and other epic creatures.

The first performance is from 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m., followed by a second show from 1-2:25 p.m. Each show is $5 per person, and registration is required.

For more than two decades, Dinosaur George has been teaching elementary, intermediate and middle school students about the amazing creatures that once ruled our planet. George Blasing is a self-taught paleontologist and animal behaviorist with more than 40 years of study and research.

With his vast knowledge of prehistoric life, expertise in animal behaviors, and powerful on-camera presence, Dinosaur George is a highly respected and sought-after expert who shares his love of all things prehistoric with throngs of enthusiastic fans.

The program displays dinosaur relics of all kinds from around the world with more than 150 museum-quality exhibit pieces from the earliest life on Earth.  From giant Texas reptiles to dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals, you’ll see firsthand some of the creatures that once roamed our state — and maybe even your backyard!

Bring your entire family to experience an energetic, fun, dino-mite performance by Dinosaur George.

For more information, contact us at 979.764.3486 or vgodwin@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Hallie Hutchins is in her third year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 with a degree in sports management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.


 

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