NEWINGTON - You know the times are unprecedented when families are shooting hoops and swinging rackets in the park in the middle of February.
A day or two after the next snowstorm, Newington residents can expect to see basketball courts, playgrounds, fitness equipment, tennis and pickleball courts in the town’s parks cleared of snow and ready for their use. It’s a new effort pledged by Newington Parks and Recreation staff, who are thinking out of the box to keep people active and safe through this winter and the pandemic.
“We realize people are cooped up, spending more time in their house than they used to and they’re feeling a new level of stress,” Superintendent Bill DeMaio said this week. “Our staff thought, lets utilize our parks like we do in spring, summer and fall; let’s see if we can get families in their safe bubbles to get out into our parks, spend some time together and get some Vitamin D from the sun.”
This came after Town Manager Keith Chapman called upon all town department heads to go above and beyond their usual duties to provide residents the best services and programs in this difficult time.
Tennis and pickleball nets have been reinstalled at the courts in Churchill Park and basketball nets are in the process of going up in neighborhood parks including Badger Park, Beechwood Park, Beacon Park, Candlewyck Park, Eagle Park, Little Brook Park, Mary Welles Park, Seymour Park, and Starr Park.
DeMaio is urging people to fight the wintertime blues and anxiety, depression and stress caused by the global health crisis by getting outside and moving their bodies.
“Exercise and physical activity pumps the production of endorphins to our brains, which trigger positive feelings throughout the body and has been shown to help combat depression and to help better manage stress,” DeMaio explained.
He’s also planning some exciting events and initiatives for families to participate in safely later this year, including drive-in bingo and trivia nights in Constitution Square, as well as mini golf and train rides in the parks.
Business and civic sponsors are needed to make these happenings a reality, however.
“If there are any businesses that wish to sponsor a car bingo or trivia night outside please contact me,” DeMaio said. “For as little as $250 you can sponsor an event and it will be worth thousands of dollars in advertising for you.”
Potential sponsors should call DeMaio at 860-665-8666.
Central Connecticut Health District Director Charles Brown has kept in constant contact with Newington officials since the pandemic began and has been adamant about people following regulations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Brown continues to urge people to wear masks, wash their hands, maintain social distance and keep small gatherings to a minimum.
Enjoying the outdoors with members of one’s household - while staying socially distanced from others - is one activity that has earned his stamp of approval.
Those who aren’t the athletic type might consider a peaceful stroll on the walking path around Mill Pond or through the woods on the trails in Churchill Park. The Saputo Fitness Center in Mill Pond Park is open as well.
The brand new Town Hall and Community Center is anchored by a state-of-the-art gymnasium, that is currently closed due to high covid-19 rates. By the end of January, town officials plan to reevaluate public use of facilities.
Till then, they want people to bundle up and enjoy the outdoors.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.