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  • Community Family Day brought hundreds to Downs Park on June 6 to enjoy outdoor activities suitable for all ages.
    Rob Odle
    Community Family Day brought hundreds to Downs Park on June 6 to enjoy outdoor activities suitable for all ages.
  • Community Family Day brought hundreds to Downs Park on June 6 to enjoy outdoor activities suitable for all ages.
    Rob Odle
    Community Family Day brought hundreds to Downs Park on June 6 to enjoy outdoor activities suitable for all ages.

Community Family Day Promotes Outdoor Fun At Downs Park

Rob Odle
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June 14, 2016

On a bright, sunny Saturday in June, local businesses, nonprofit organizations, moon bounces, fire companies and even a few farm animals packed into Downs Park, lining the stony sidewalks with enough activities to interest passersby of any age group. As the park’s gates opened, hundreds funneled in to see the sights of the park and enjoy the fifth annual Community Family Day held by the Friends of Downs Park.

On the surface, Community Family Day is an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends in a positive environment, but, according to Robin Fries, president of the Friends of Downs Park, the day serves a much deeper purpose.

“Community Family Day brings people out to the park and really exposes them to [Downs], plus it gives them a chance to meet retailers and local businesses,” Fries said. “It gets people familiar with Pasadena and what we have to offer.”

Fries added that, while showing off local businesses is important, she believes that getting more people interested in Downs Park is critical to the park’s continued success.

She explained that the event has become bigger and better than it was in its first year, and that means big things for the park itself. “We’re hearing less and less of ‘We’ve never heard of this park before!’” Fries said. Her hope is that more people become willing to donate to the park in order to make some much-needed improvements.

Currently, the Friends of Downs Park are “very aggressively” trying to raise money for a new amphitheater in the park. The amphitheater would grant the park the opportunity to hold summer concerts, something that is virtually impossible with the current stage because of extreme heat and lack of overhead coverage. The group has raised $30,000 so far but needs $200,000 to complete the project. “The sooner we can get that built, the better,” Fries said.

Raffles at Community Family Day benefitted the amphitheater fund, as well as donation boxes and pamphlets to help “bring a lot of focus to it,” according to Fries.

While much of the emphasis was on the park itself, most families focused on what area their children would bolt off to next.

Tracey Knox and her son, Samuel, had only been walking around for about 25 minutes but had already found an obsession. As Samuel practiced his best meow, Know explained that her son loved meeting Sneaks, the yellow cat mascot of Anne Arundel County Public Library’s summer reading program. She added that, though Sneaks seemed to be Samuel’s favorite part, “the fire trucks were pretty awesome.”

Bill and Brenda Siwak made the trip to Downs from their home in Annapolis to spend an exciting day with their grandson, Dylan. The duo said that they both frequent the park but have never been to Community Family Day before. Both were impressed by the amount of activities that were offered.

“My grandson can go jump on the moon bounce or jump on the fire trucks,” Bill said. Brenda agreed wholeheartedly, adding, “There’s much more here than expected.”

Paul Hackenberg and C. Whitmore came without children, but they said the day was exciting for the both of them nonetheless. They visit the park often and decided to experience Community Family Day for themselves.

“It’s a great day for it too,” Whitmore remarked about the weather. Though they weren’t participating in things like face painting and moon bouncing, both were glad that there were so many activities for kids, and they were impressed by the turnout overall. “It’s nice to know that it was free admission and everyone could come and enjoy it,” Whitmore said.

The Emmett family provided a shining example of a full family enjoying everything that Community Family Day had to offer. Grandparents Anne and Bob spent the day with grandchildren Palmer, Austin and Elsie, while their son, Andrew, participated in a triathlon. Once Andrew finished his event, the family spent the day together at Downs. Austin, Elsie and Palmer enjoyed face painting and other activities. Andrew enjoyed the wide selection of benches on the water to relax after his trying athletics, and Anne and Bob simply enjoyed the “fun with our grandchildren.”

While Fries certainly hopes that the amphitheater improvement mission was furthered throughout the day, she was glad to see families having fun and enjoying the beautiful Downs Park day. Fries concluded that she was so happy to see “all these families and even pets that come out to support us. All around, it’s a great day.”


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