Joshua Morrison/News Mount Vernon City Recreation Director Jerry Clinger, left, Safety-Service Director Rick Dzik and Mayor Matt Starr unveil the Summer in the City program on Public Square on Thursday. The program will involve local organizations, groups and the city parks to give residents something to do amidst the pandemic.

Joshua Morrison/Mount Vernon News

Mount Vernon City Recreation Director Jerry Clinger, left, Safety-Service Director Rick Dzik and Mayor Matt Starr unveil the Summer in the City program on Public Square on Thursday. The program will involve local organizations, groups and the city parks to give residents something to do amidst the pandemic. Request this photo

 

MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Mayor Matt Starr announced the kickoff to Summer in the City — an overall initiative to “rethink and re-imagine” public recreation in the shadow of the current COVID-19 restrictions. Flanked by Mount Vernon Recreation Board Director Jerry Clinger and Safety Service Director Richard Dzik, Starr introduced the plan to help revitalize local recreation activity in an announcement on the public square at noon on Thursday.

“We need to start having fun again.”

Summer in the City is an effort to increase awareness and access to recreational activities and opportunities citywide, and includes athletic activities as well as music and art. Some of the participating organizations and businesses include Ariel-Foundation Park, the YMCA, The Woodward Opera House, Knox Rocks, MTVArts, Knox Memorial, Main Street Mount Vernon, Step Into Fitness along with the Mount Vernon Music and Arts Festival.

“We want to, essentially, repackage all of the opportunities that are available to the public,” Starr said, “Some of these are fee-based and some are free. So, we said, instead of trying to compete for the same audience or certain parts of the audience, let’s develop an overall plan of what does recreation look like in the City of Mount Vernon right now. So, this pandemic has forced us into rethinking and re-imagining what that means.”

For now, that means several pages full of information online, which can be found at mountvernonohio.org. Once there, click on Summer in the City to find listings of links to activities for families and individuals of all ages. That also includes the availability of local sports leagues, many of which have had to reschedule their season.

“In all my years as the City of Mount Vernon recreation director, this is the most unique,” Clinger said. “Mount Vernon is very recreationally and leisure-activity starved, and you can find that all around town, from the YMCA to Ariel-Foundation Park and our other parks we have here in town. People here love their recreation and leisure-time activities. We have to do it safely and with restrictions in some cases, but we still want to offer all that we can.”

Tennis and pickleball courts are open, along with golf courses and lakes. The website will be updated as more facilities open, leagues reschedule and activities are added.

“We’re very excited about this summer,” said Carrie Haven, Marketing Director at Ariel-Foundation Park. “It’s a different kind of summer, but it has forced us to be creative and think outside the box, and that’s never a bad thing.”

The park will offer Sunday night bagpipe concerts, nature programs and a daily summer fitness program that includes activities like cardio-drumming and tai-chi.

“Those are free of charge,” Haven said. “I would encourage you to check out those fitness providers on our website. They are doing this free of charge as well. So, we are very thankful for them. They are giving of their time and talent to our community.”

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Geoff Cowles: 740-397-5333 or gcowles@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @http://twitter.com/mountvernonnews