Editorial: The value of recreation and parks in our community

Parks and recreation isn’t often brought up when talking about the integral roles of government, but it’s hard to imagine what a community would be like without these programs.

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and the National Recreation and Parks Association is encouraging people to “explore the ‘undiscovered’ roles” and redefine how you think about local parks and recreation. Carroll County government and the City of Westminster have embraced this idea, and both are offering various promotions and activities throughout the month to get more people to learn about Rec and Parks programs.


One way to get involved is to participate in the ABC’s of Park Pursuit, in which county Rec and Parks has designated a different activity for each letter of the alphabet. Activities range from Art in a Park to Zingy Day (don’t worry, we had to look that one up too… “zingy” means “enjoyably exciting,” according to Merriam-Webster), and every letter in between, including Friday’s free “Movie Night,” a screening of “Peter Rabbit” at Sandymount Park starting at 8:45 p.m., quiet time in a park on Tuesday, July 17, and yoga in a park on Wednesday, July 25.

You can take photos or selfies at one of the county’s many parks doing these activities, then send them to or post on the Carroll County Recreation and Parks Facebook page for a chance to win weekly prizes.

Also make sure to register the family for just $5 for the Park Pursuit Party from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, July 30, at Sandymount Park (rain date July 31). The deadline to register is July 23.

While the county’s Rec and Parks Department is taking a more leisurely approach, the City of Westminster is going all out. Earlier this week, they brought inflatables to Westminster City Park. Every Thursday in July, it is giving away free snowballs at noon on Locust Lane.

On Friday, July 13, there is a youth triathlon known as the Small Fry Tri, where kids can bring their own bike, tricycle or Power Wheels, then “swim” through sprinklers and run to the finish line. Registration is $5. There is also the Ninja Warrior Challenge, a homemade obstacle course, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 20 at Westminster City Park. Registration for that is $7 per child.

Westminster’s Month of Sundays concert series also takes place throughout July, and other events are scheduled every day through the rest of the month.

It’s remarkable how much our local parks and recreation programs have to offer. These events barely scratch the surface. And even though most of the July events are geared toward families and kids who are out of school for the summertime, there are no shortage of offerings for teens, adults and seniors.

Robust parks and recreation programs help our communities offer a good quality of life, and also have a significant effect on the local economy. Research shows that parks enhance property values and contribute to health and productive workforces. Recreational facilities also make communities more desirable places to live, work and play.

While investments in parks and recreational facilities aren’t big moneymakers for local governments, even when accounting for fees, it can provide indirect revenues to local economies when people visit restaurants before or after a concert, or go shopping when they drop little Jimmy off at basketball practice.

The value of parks and recreation in Carroll County should not be underestimated. And we hope people spend the rest of July discovering something new about rec and parks programs here they never knew existed.