Parks and Rec Dept. offers summer fun for all ages

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A classic summer carnival, new and improved programs, and a series of 1980s throwback events are some of the many highlights of an action-packed summer season planned by the Canton Parks and Recreation Department.

The carnival, staged by Fiesta Shows, kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. at the Kennedy School and runs through Sunday, July 12. “It’s one of the safest and most well-known companies,” Assistant Recreation Director Nick Pirelli said of the New Hampshire-based carnival operator.

Pay-one-price wristbands are available each day for $25 per person. A $3 discount coupon, which is good during specific times each day, is available in the Parks and Recreation booklet that was mailed home in the spring, on the department’s website, and at businesses throughout Canton.

Also in July, Canton Parks and Rec invites the public to go back to the 80s in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Park and Recreation Month, which was established by the National Recreation and Park Association in 1985.

The fun starts Wednesday evening, July 22, with an 80s-themed concert featuring the band Human Nature on the lawn in front of Canton High School. The following evening, the classic 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial will be shown on a large inflatable screen at Pequitside Farm. The screening will begin at 8:30 p.m. and the rain date is Friday, July 24.

The third event is an 80s-themed lip sync contest to be held on the front lawn of CHS (date and time to be announced). Several staff members from the day camp program will perform and the Parks and Rec Department will provide costumes and microphones.

“It’s really a talent show,” said Pirelli, who is also working on plans for a “Canton’s Got Talent” show in January 2016.

In addition to the carnival and anniversary events, the department has also made two significant changes and improvements to its summer offerings. “One is the programs that we’re offering,” Pirelli said. “The second is the quality of the programs.”

He focused on the Pequitside Day Camp, which offers sports activities, arts and crafts, swim lessons and the opportunity for children to make new friends.

“We did a ton of training with our camp staff,” Pirelli said. “We brought them in ahead of time. Our safety plans have been redesigned.”

Camp staff now carry two-way radios as well as radios that monitor weather conditions. The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as it has in the past, but there is an optional early drop-off at 8 a.m. and an optional late pickup at 5 p.m.

The department is also pleased to offer two new water activities this summer at Bolivar Pond and the town swimming pool. One is a senior water aerobics class, which is designed for residents 50 and older and will be taught by an instructor from the Massachusetts Hospital School. The free class begins July 11 and runs every Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through August 15.

The department is also planning to offer kayak rentals, and Pirelli is hoping to have all of the details worked out by the end of July. Kayakers would be able to rent one of two kayaks to use on Bolivar Pond on an hourly basis during the regular pool hours of 1-6 p.m.

“We want to take small steps and gauge interest,” he said, adding that the aerobics course and kayaking are a way to reintroduce people to the nine acres that make up the pond and pool area.

Another new program, Archery Basics for kids ages 7-15, was first offered during school vacation week in April and has proven to be very popular. Instructor Mariah Grosky teaches the use of compound and recurve bow, safety gear, and the proper use of muscles and balance. The July sessions are full, but there are spaces remaining in the August classes.

Meanwhile, adults who enjoy hiking can sign up for the department’s free guided hikes, led by seasonal employee Frank Sturm. Two hikes have been planned — one on Sunday, July 19, at Noon Hill in Medfield, and the second on Sunday, August 16, at Noanet Woods in Dover.

“Frank Sturm is an avid outdoors guy,” Pirelli said. “All (people) have to do is go on the website and register.”

Also this summer, Parks and Rec is pleased to announce the return of its annual summer concert series, which began last night and continues every Wednesday evening at 6:30 on the front lawn of the Marilyn G. Rodman Building. “It’s great music,” Pirelli said of the free concerts, which run through August 12. “Have a burger and a hot dog, bring chairs [and] blankets. Bring the whole family.”

For more information and to register for summer programs, go to www.cantonrec.com or visit the Armando Recreation Center at 92 Pleasant Street between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 781-821-5030.

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