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County kicks off Parks and Recreation Month

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department, along with other recreation departments around the country, are taking the month of July to highlight the various leisure activities available to citizens in their own backyards.

In keeping with National Parks and Recreation Month, the Clayton department, the Clayton County Collaborative Authority and the Reach Them 2 Teach Them Foundation are celebrating the Fourth of July at Clayton County International Park.

From 8 a.m,. to 11 p.m., Friday, for the price of $10 per person, residents will be able to enjoy live music, water slides, adventure golf, free movies, and much more.

"Inviting metro-Atlanta families to Clayton County International Park is a great way to kick off National Parks and Recreation Month,and showcase the diverse range of services offered to Atlanta residents," said Detrick Stanford, director of the parks and recreation department. "With increased travel expenses, this is a great time for residents to visit other parts of our Atlanta region and enjoy all that our park system has to offer."

Visitors to the park that day will be able to enjoy all of the park's amenities, including picnic areas with in-ground grills, a swimming lake with a water trampoline, fishing, tennis and volleyball courts, soccer fields, and miniature golf. Throughout the day, an Atlanta-based variety band, "Loose Chain," will perform, along with contemporary gospel artist, Sean Simmons. At 9 p.m., the evening will conclude with an outdoor viewing of "Bee Movie," staring Jerry Seinfeld.

While there will be no fireworks display for the Fourth of July at the park, the event will feature an in-line skating exhibition, hosted by Joe White, a fitness expert and director of the Skate in School program. People, young and old, will have the opportunity to try in-line skating.

"We've had other activities that have been interactive, but not to this degree," said Albert Irvin, executive director of the Reach Them 2 Teach Them Foundation, which is co-sponsoring the Fourth of July celebration as part of its Summer Event Series.

White, who has been showing people how to skate since the early 1990s, said that many people are reluctant to try on skates, but "fall in love" with them after only a few minutes. White promised that he can get any healthy, first-time skater "up and rolling" in only five minutes.

"I like to get first timers to try it and see that it looks more awkward than it actually is," he said. "The first time people try it, they are a little leery, but once they get the hang of it, they fall in love with it."

White said he is working to create a partnership with the parks and recreation department and the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team to eventually offer roller-hockey leagues at local recreation centers. He also plans to approach the Tony Hawk Foundation to try to bring a public skate park to the county.

"I'm really thankful to be a part of the expanding services that the Clayton County Parks and Recreation department is envisioning," said White.

Irvin said because the Parks and Recreation department is partnering with more entities, the park has been able to offer more diverse programing than in previous years. He said he hopes citizens will take advantage of it throughout the summer.

"Many times in our community, we miss the great opportunities that our parks and recreation department provides," said Irvin. The events will "encourage people to get more involved in their community."

The Parks and Recreation department will sponsor a series of free events this month to celebrate National Parks and Recreation Month. For more information, visit www.co.clayton.ga.us or call (770) 477-3766.