By Elizabeth Richards
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift, the Windham Parks and Recreation Department is planning an exciting lineup of events and activities this summer. “We are moving and shaking here for the summer months,” said Linda Brooks, Windham Director of Parks and Recreation.
Dundee Park opened for the season last weekend and things are almost how they were pre-pandemic, Brooks said, with one key exception. There will not be lifeguards on duty at Dundee Park this year, mainly because lifeguards are in short supply.
“There was already a lifeguard shortage before the pandemic, and the inability of people to get trained and certified during the pandemic added to that shortage,” Brooks said.
Another exciting thing, Brooks said, is the return of the summer concert series at Dundee Park after a one-year hiatus because of the pandemic. The series will run four Wednesday nights, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., with the first concert set for July 7. Admission to Dundee Park is free after 5 p.m. on concert evenings.
Facilities can once again be reserved to host family gatherings or parties at Dundee Park. New this year is the ability to reserve picnic space at Donnabeth Lippman park as well, which includes access to yard games stored there at the park.
Also on the lineup is a modified – but not strictly virtual - version of Summerfest.
“We are celebrating Summerfest here in Windham, albeit different than it used to be,” Brooks said. “We have a few different ways that businesses and organizations are able to still do what they normally do and spotlight their organizations.”
A town wide scavenger hunt will take place during the week leading up to June 19, the traditional Summerfest date. Businesses and organizations will provide challenges through a free app, EVENTZEE, and prizes will be awarded for participation.
“Families may want to do it together, but it can be an individual participation thing as well,” Brooks said.
In lieu of the traditional parade, Summerfest will include “Yardi Gras” where residents or businesses will create floats to display in their front yards using the theme “Summertime in the Lakes Region.”
Windham Parks & Recreation will publish a map of all the floats so that people can drive by and see them in person and $100 prizes will be awarded to the best entries in each of five categories.
The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Sebago Lake Rotary Club and Modern Woodmen are sponsoring a golf ball drop, with a potential top prize of $1,000, depending on how many of the 1,000 available balls are sold.
Proceeds of the fundraiser will support both Summerfest and the Windham Food Pantry. Balls can be purchased through the Chamber website. The Windham Fire Department will drop the balls from a ladder truck at 1 p.m. on June 19. People can watch the drop in person or live on Facebook.
Although it’s different than traditional Summerfest, the committee really wanted to do something fun and great and promote what Windham’s Parks and Recreation is all about, Brooks said.
Windham Parks and Recreation is also offering “Summer Kids Club,” again this year. More than 200 children are registered already, an increase of about 100 participants over last year, Brooks said.
Though they’ll have to adhere to some camp-specific guidelines around COVID-19, they’re a little less restrictive than last year at this time, Brooks said. While staffing for camp programs has been a struggle in some communities, Brooks said they’re fortunate to have both strong returning staff and some new staff.
The summer track program will begin on June 21 and currently, Brooks said that they’re uncertain as to whether they’ll work under USATF and compete against other programs, since they received an update only last week, and many other communities are opting out this year. Even if they decide not to go that route, she said, they would like to offer some type of competition.
“Last year competition was not allowed at all. This year it could be, so we may be just trying to pull something together with neighboring communities to still give the participants that experience,” she said.
The department has been hosting Playdates in the Park for preschoolers this spring, and may continue through the summer months, depending on interest, Brooks said.
A range of opportunities for seniors are also available.
For more information, or to register for Windham Parks and Recreation summer programs, visit https://windhamrecreation.com. <