Falcon Heights launches summer youth activities

By Anne Holzman

Falcon Heights has opened its registration for summer youth programs and is planning a May 20 get-together at Curtiss Field as a final opportunity to sign up before registration closes on May 25.

The May 20 event will include games and free ice cream from 4 to 6 p.m. Details for the “Spring Together” event will be posted on the city’s website. The contact for summer programming is Kelly Nelson, kelly.nelson@falconheights.org.

The special kick-off comes as the city hopes to spur enrollment in summer programming this year.

In an interview in March, parks commission member Mike Bradbury said enrollment in summer programming has lagged in recent years, starting before the pandemic. He said the commission has been discussing whether it needs to offer different activities or find other ways to recruit participants in order to fill activity groups.

Bradbury said most of the enrollment decline has come in non-resident families. City residents get a price break, he said, which may be a factor.

Staffing has also been difficult, he said. College students, especially those who have participated in the programs and are familiar with the routines, make ideal candidates but have been in short supply.

Another limitation has been the lack of a building at Community Park. The old one has been closed for several years and will be replaced, but not in time for this year’s programs.

Bradbury, who has served on the commission since 2019, said there’s fresh energy now that the commission is finally full after several years with one or two empty seats and quite a few meetings canceled for lack of a quorum. The recent purchase of Community Park land from the University of Minnesota has also buoyed the commission as it plans a new building and other renovations.

He noted the commission also has observed an influx of new housing in Falcon Heights and wonders what that means for parks. The Amber Union project that opened last fall will add new neighbors, he said, and they “don’t have their own green space. How do we draw them to parks?”

Bradbury, a physical therapist, said he got involved in the parks when his son was little. They started bringing equipment out to Curtiss Park and offering free pickup soccer sessions.

He said he discovered that many parents don’t trust their neighborhood for outdoor play.

“I had to really rally to get kids outside,” he said.

Having spent some time in Africa, he noted that many societies use their open spaces for play more than we do in the United States.

Bradbury said he hopes the commission’s work will draw people out and connect neighbors with each other. “It’s healthy,” he exclaimed. “Get outside! Cook! Meet up!” 

Anne Holzman is a Twin Cities freelance writer who covers Falcon Heights news for the Bugle.

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