Parks & Rec. Department provides summer fun in Pittsburg
Parks and Recreation
May 25, 2023
PITTSBURG, KS – Many people consider “BUSY” a four-letter word, but for Pittsburg Recreation Superintendent Jason Cecil, it simply means summer is here.
With the Pittsburg Aquatic Center set to open Friday, May 26 and Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, the Pittsburg Parks & Recreation Department is gearing up for another jam-packed season. Since early spring, the department has been preparing for summer programs, camps, athletic tournaments, and getting parks and aquatic facilities ready for patrons – including hiring roughly sixty part-time recreation staff.
“It’s a lot of hours but when you truly work with a bunch of great people and have a great team, it’s worth it,” says Cecil. “Seeing opening day at the pool go off without a snag, and all the happy faces makes the work and hours worth it. We live in a great community and it’s a pleasure to get things ready for the citizens of Pittsburg.”
Since opening summer registration, the department has received a tremendous response. Summer Camp Now & Then sold out within a few hours, and many swim lessons are already filled.
Hiring seasonal help for summer programs is a major undertaking each year, and this season was no exception. Opening the Pittsburg Aquatic Center is a feat in and of itself. In order to open the City’s pool, the department needs 22 regular lifeguards and seven to 10 substitute lifeguards to operate – and that doesn’t include the recreation staff needed to operate the City’s recreation facilities and programs.
“This year, we have 31 guards trained and ready to go by opening day,” said Cecil. “We also hire approximately 10 aquatic concession staff, 10 to 12 ballfield concessions staff, and six to eight Kiddieland staff just on the recreation side.”
According to Cecil, some local pools are delaying opening due to a lack of lifeguards, and some area pools closing down, so his team is expecting record attendance.
“There are a multitude of groups coming to Pittsburg and bringing their kids to the Pittsburg Aquatic Center,” said Cecil. “We have made multiple improvements in our pump house to help ensure a great opening day for our community.”
The Parks & Recreation Department also welcomed Andrea Schibi to the team this year as the City’s Athletics Manager. Schibi manages a full roster of programs, including pickleball tournaments, sports clinics, youth tennis and soccer camps, and numerous leagues and ball games. The Don Gutteridge Sports Complex is booked most evenings with teams from JL Hutchinson Baseball, Pittsburg Fastpitch Softball, and the local high school baseball and softball leagues.
The City has already seen a rush of attendance to the park facilities, averaging more than 150 people daily at the Schlanger Park Splash Pad, and multiple organizations, church groups, birthday parties, and school parties filling up Kiddieland Amusement Park.
Kiddieland received a number of upgrades in recent years; a new carousel was donated in 2022 by Riggs Chiropractic; new fencing around the carousel has been added; and colorful murals were painted on the concession stand by local artist Linda Wilson. The City’s new Splash Pad was opened last year and is one of many fully-accessible amenities added to Schlanger Park, thanks to generous local donations, grants and City funding. Other facilities like the Pickleball courts at the Four Oaks Golf Course draw crowds throughout the year.
“The pickleball courts have been a huge hit,” Cecil added. “The carousel is a must-ride for community members who visit Kiddieland. Fundraising for the miniature golf course is underway, which will be a huge hit for adults and kids alike. I see great things happening for our Parks and Recreation Department in the years to come under the leadership of our new Director Toby Book.”
Cecil says the people he works with and the great things happening in the Pittsburg community are his favorite aspects of working at the department.
“Being able to see the amount of work that goes on from this side of the house was eye-opening,” Cecil says. “Coming from a social service field to Parks and Recreation was a great move for me personally and professionally, and the coworkers have made this a great learning process. I look forward to the many things we have in store for the Pittsburg community and I’m happy to be just a small part of it.”
To learn more about the Pittsburg Parks & Recreation Department, local parks and facilities, or to register for programs, visit www.pittks.org/play, call (620) 231-8310, or check out the department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PPRD1.