The turning of the Hiawatha maples was the perfect time for Hiawatha Parks & Recreation to turn over a few new leaves of their own.

Director Stacy Jasper said after a summer of low key events and programs due to the Coronavirus, HP&R was back in action beginning Oct. 14 as they hosted a Flag Football Camp alongside the HHS Red Hawk football team. Over 60 1st-4th graders enjoyed a fun, safe football camp in lieu of the usual Flag Football League. Coach Michael Downard, his staff and entire Red Hawk football team led the youth in offensive and defensive drills during the 4-day event. Four stations were set up weekly, with campers participating with the grades only. On the final day, campers split up into teams and go to scrimmage each other and the high school players.

Senior quarterback Alex Rockey said he really enjoyed working with the youth.

“I have so many great memories of playing youth football. It’s where I developed my love for the game, and I am just so thankful that I had the opportunity to play at that age,” he said. “When Stacy asked if our team could help with her camp, I couldn’t wait to be a part of it and give back. All of us players loved teaching the game to the campers. It was a fun experience for all of us.”

Coach Downard also preached how important it was for his team to be able to help mentor the youth.

“I loved seeing our players step into leadership roles and give back to the community,” he said.

Next up for HP&R was all things Halloween!

“Unfortunately due to the rising cases of Covid and CDC guidelines, we chose to forfeit the Terror on the Trail this year. It was a tough decision as it’s our biggest event of the year, and definitely a huge part of Hiawatha’s Frolic,” Jasper said.

However, many other events were able to take place, with just a few modifications. Instead of hosting the annual Pumpkin Palooza, this year Jasper and her assistant, Maryann Wichman, put together Pumpkin Palooza To-Go kits — bags of crafts, pumpkin decorations and treats for families to take home.

“We had such great feedback from these kits that we are now going to offer them monthly, not all holiday themed but seasonal too,” Jasper said. “This was a makeshift idea that has now become a new program for HP&R!”

In addition to the kits, HP&R also offered a new event called the Monster Maze, where families could social distance their way through the Fisher Center gym and explore nearly 20 Halloween inflatables, spooky lights and Halloween music.

“Once again, we were just trying to come up with some safe, holiday fun for our community,” she said. “We didn’t charge for the Monster Maze but had families sign up for time slots so we could maintain crowd control. This was a really fun event that will now become another annual program for us.”

On Halloween morning at the middle school track, HP&R hosted its 2nd Annual Great Pumpkin Relays.

“This was a great kick-off for Halloween day as we had seven teams of 2-4 people compete in the just for fun race. Teams used a pumpkin as their baton and completed the mile race,” explained Jasper. “We had 23 participants, each getting a pumpkin of their own as well as all the younger runners receiving a pumpkin medal.”

After Halloween, HP&R hosted its 3rd Annual Glow on the Go, this year at a new location – the Hiawatha City Lake.

“I’ve always wanted to host a run at our lake. With the help of the Streets Department, we were able to smooth out some areas where the roads had been unsafe,” she said. “Over 75 people came out for the Glow Walk around the lake. As usual, Chris Diller jumped at the chance to DJ as he set up his sound system on the opposite side of the lake. It was awesome to see all the glow in the reflection of the lake and to jam to Diller’s playlist!”

This last weekend, HP&R hosted the 4th Annual Turkey Trot & Mile Fun Run on Sunday, Nov. 22.

“This is typically our biggest race of the year,” commented Jasper, noting that this year 50 people came out for the race, masked and ready to trot. “This is always such a fun race because participants predict their times, as we award the ones closest to their guesses. We also recognize the top 3 who finish with medals but the true prizes go to the most accurate Trotters.”

In the mile fun run, 23 kids and adults ran the trail length from the Fisher Center to Little Hands Daycare and back. Third grader, Lily Gatz, came in first with a time of 6:12, scoring a fun pair of turkey sunglasses. For the 5K, 27 kids and adults walked, ran and trotted their way around the 3.1 mile-ish loop of the City Trail. The top 3 finishers were Ethan Pruitt in 1st with a time of 21:16, and the father/son duo of Jim and Jake Robidoux with times of 21:33 and 21:32, respectively. (Son beat dad!)

As mentioned, Jasper said the real winners were those coming in closest to their predictions. Vicki Hubin and Tish Sims tied for 3rd as they both came in 42 seconds off their times, winning Pumpkin Pies donated by Walmart. In 2nd place, only 8 seconds off her time was Andi Foster, winning a ham also donated by Walmart. And the grand prize winner was Jane Young, coming in just 7 seconds off her predicted time, winning a giant Thanksgiving turkey, donated by Walmart.

“It was a gorgeous day to hold our Turkey Trot,” Jasper said. “Not only did we have 50 people come out and get their steps in, we also had 3 people participate virtually as they didn’t want to miss out on the Trot!”

The Lady Red Hawk Basketball team was in attendance as well as David Keo on the boys’ team, to help with course supervision and picture taking.

Prior to the race, Jasper also handed out Turkey Time To-Go bags curbside for the 54 participants who signed up for the Thanksgiving themed bag of gratitude games, crafts and treats.

Due to the rise in Covid cases, HP&R had to cancel their annual Triple Threat Basketball Clinics as well as postpone the Coed Volleyball League.

“Covid is still throwing some wrenches our way, but we’re doing what we can to still provide recreation for our community,” she said. “We are still offering our monthly individual and corporate step challenges as well as our monthly to-go kits for kids.”

“Stay tuned for December events as well as any new programs that might be coming our way in 2021!” she continued.

As always, stay caught up with all things HP&R by following their social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Call 742-7176 for any questions regarding upcoming programs and events.

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