By Barb Pert Templeton
Swimming pools, a super slide, sports, nature, dance and theater programs?
Yes, the 2021 Summer Recreation schedule in Port Huron seems to have it all and organizers can’t wait to welcome families back outside.
Recreation Department Marketing Specialist Natacha Hayden said they are extremely excited to get things back on track after so many programs were set aside last year during the pandemic.
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“We’ve had record registration for programs already and if a lot of programs fill-up we will do our best to open another session if we can,” Hayden said.
Port Huron Recreation has a partnership with Burtchville, Clyde, Fort Gratiot and Port Huron townships so their residents get the city of Port Huron “resident” rate for summer programs.
Hayden said the recreation department provides services to over 3,000 households annually.
This summer, new classes like Kids Boot Camp for ages 8 to 12 that aims to introduce kids to healthy habits and Sports Discovery which offers a variety of sports for little ones, are expected to be big hits.
“The boot camp will bring kids out early in the morning so they can start their day the right way with a few drills, some cardio and some outdoor activities,” Hayden said. “Sports Discovery combines different sports, even ones like archery and lacrosse, because a lot of the kids don’t know what sport they even like.”
Lots of program favorites will return to the summer schedule as well including Drive-In Movies at McMorran Place and Walk Michigan.
Hayden said the movies have always been popular and in fact the recreation department hosted several drive-in events this past winter and they were very well received.
Walk Michigan, which invites the public to take part in one-mile strolls along eight different routes setup by the department, is incredibly popular with six to eight hundred people participating each week in years past.
Hayden said this summer’s Walk Michigan will remain a hybrid exercise where participants don’t gather to walk in mass but instead create their own smaller groups to complete the routes on their own time and at their own pace. Walkers are encouraged to register for the free program so that organizers can ensure they get a free t-shirt at the end of the summer if they complete five walking routes.
Getting back to normal
Being able to open the public pools at Sanborn Street and Court Street on June 28 for open swims and swimming lessons, after they were closed last summer, is going to be huge, Hayden said.
Like other communities, Port Huron struggled a bit to find lifeguards to work at their pools simply because they always relied on job fairs for applicants but the pandemic eliminated those over the last year. Fortunately, they were able to work with administrators at local high schools and the community college to round up enough qualified applicants to cover pool staffing for this summer.
“The pools (operating) are always subject to change as we follow CDC guidelines and those things do change so rapidly but we have marks on the deck for social distancing so we’re ready,” Hayden said.
Other sought-after programming includes dance classes that welcome 100 students in the summer and an even bigger enrollment roster in the fall. Hayden said the theatre workshop draws an equally eager crowd and in fact this summer’s program has already filled to capacity so organizers are working now to add an additional workshop.
Seeing the giant Super Slide back in place at Palmer Park from June 15 to August 14 should please the community as well. Hayden said are invited to take a free innertube ride on a huge slide designed for those 5-years and older and at least 40 inches tall. Every innertube will be sanitized between rides.
“We opened the slide in 2019 and it was very popular with children and adults,” Hayden said. “It’s near Palmer Park hill and people get into an innertube and ride down the slide, well some like to race down the slide too.”
A Beach Yoga program hosted in partnership with Happy Dog Yoga is already up and running drawing nice crowds to Lakeside Beach on Saturday mornings at 9:30 a.m. Hayden said it’s a drop-in event with a fee charged and collected at the site.
One program that was launched out of necessity during the summer of 2020 was “REC on the Go” that allowed people to pick-up packets with items needed to create a craft at home or a small piece of sports equipment. Hayden said they partnered with Marysville and St. Clair recreation departments and 1,000 kits were distributed each week.
Now, since it was so successful, “REC on the Go” will be offered again this summer and there will be a half dozen places in the city to pick-up weekly projects including at Palmer Park and the McMorran Place Pro Shop.
As June rolls in recreation programs will start taking shape across the city and should the pandemic rear it’s ugly head again, well, the recreation department will be ready.
“If CDC Guidelines change, which we hope doesn’t happen, but if it does, we’ll just get creative,” Hayden smiled.
To check out all the program being offered this summer go online to porthuronrec.com. To register in-person for summer programs go to Palmer Park Recreation Center at 2800 Gratiot Avenue (at Garfield) weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.