Listen to Story
Here’s a look at some of the programs and special events Denton Parks & Recreation plans for this spring.
Denton Parks & Recreation is one busy city department. While a lot of residents may think the department only oversees the city’s parks, that’s just the start of all the programming the department offers.
In addition to maintaining Denton’s numerous parks, play spaces, and athletic fields, Denton Parks & Recreation also actively works to ensure land is reserved for future park space, says Nikki Sassenus, assistant parks and recreation director for Denton Parks & Recreation Department.
“As fast as Denton is developing, we’re trying to work with developers and City Council to acquire enough parkland to ensure that we have a high level of service for the future for Denton and all of our communities,” she explains.
The department also oversees a variety of recreation centers throughout the city, including the Denton Civic Center, Natatorium, Civic Center Pool, and Waterworks Park.
Parks & Recreation also manages the 3,000-acre Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center featuring an upland prairie, bottomland hardwood forest, and diverse aquatic habitats. In November, the Center celebrated the opening of a public mountain bike trail. “That was built with volunteers — we didn’t have any funding for that project and volunteers put in over 1,000 hours to help build that trail,” Sassenus says. “It’s pretty unique — it’s something different that not all park systems offer.”
And the Parks & Recreation Department recently welcomed Denton residents over the age of 50 back to the American Legion Hall and Denton Senior Center to take advantage of the department’s full senior programming. Sassenus says the department offers a wide variety of senior classes, including fitness programs, social activities, arts and crafts, and even woodshop.
“I don’t think many people know, but we have a full woodshop at the Denton Senior Center,” she explains. “There are volunteers there who will help you work through using various equipment and tools in there to make projects. It’s really unique in most recreation departments to be able to offer that. It really is like walking into a full woodshop.”
Great American Clean-Up
In addition to running all these facilities and programs, Denton Parks & Recreation also holds a large number of special events throughout the year.
One such event is the Great American Clean-Up coming up on Saturday, March 26th.
“The Great American Cleanup is part of a larger national campaign,” Sassenus says. “This really focuses on litter control and pick-up and really taking care of our community. It leverages volunteers and community members to help with keeping Denton clean.”
The event will be held from 9:00 am to 11:00 am with clean-up sites at Quakertown Park and other areas across the city. Afterward, all volunteers are invited back to the Denton Civic Center for a thank-you celebration from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Volunteers can sign up online — free T-shirts are available to volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Sassenus says last year volunteers cleaned up almost five tons of litter from the city, and the department is hopeful for a great turnout of volunteers again this year. “It’s a great opportunity to come out, meet your neighbors, and really take care of the city that we live in,” she adds. “It’s really just helping us help each other.”
Easter Hunt, Honey Run & Rosebud Festival
In April, Denton Parks & Recreation has some special events planned to help welcome spring.
On Saturday, April 9th, the department will host its EGGstravaganza Easter Egg Hunt at Quakertown Park from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Various egg hunts will be held during that time for different age groups. The first egg hunt begins at 9:30 am for babies and young children up to age 2.
Sassenus says there will also be lots of other activities during the event, including face painting, balloon twisting, music, crafts, bounce houses, and food available for purchase. And children will have the chance to have their photo taken with the Easter Bunny.
Then later in the month on April 23rd, Denton Parks & Recreation will hold two events. The 7th Annual Honey Run one-miler and 5K fun run will start at 8:00 am and go through Quakertown Park. Sassenus says it is free for runners and walkers to register and T-shirts will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Then from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, the annual Redbud Festival will take place in the Denton Civic Center. “Denton is actually the Redbud Capital of Texas,” Sassenus states. “It’s really our celebration with Keep Denton Beautiful in celebrating Earth Day.”
The Redbud Festival will feature educational booths and classes and vendors, as well as bounce houses, crafts, face painting, and music.
Summer Camp Scholarships & Jobs
On Friday, April 1st at 8:00 am, Denton Parks & Recreation will open registration for its all-day summer camps. The department offers seven different all-day summer camps spread out around the city, including a preschool camp at the MLK Jr. Recreation Center, a Teen Camp at the Civic Center, and Camp Conquest at the North Lakes Recreation Center.
“We really try to offer them all over Denton to make them accessible to parents and kids,” Sassenus says.
Denton Parks & Recreation also strives to ensure their summer camps are available to all Denton families, regardless of any financial hardships. For this reason, they offer free and partial summer camp scholarships to Denton residents who may need assistance. The scholarships are funded through Community Development Block Grants and the Denton Parks Foundation.
“Summer camp is a great opportunity for kids to grow both physically and emotionally, and it’s something that should be accessible to all kids,” Sassenus explains. “It’s something we want all kids to be able to experience — it’s a great part of growing up. These scholarships help us be able to provide access to kids who might not otherwise be able to go and benefit from summer camp, and sometimes these are the kids who need it most.”
Denton residents may apply online for a summer camp scholarship starting Monday, May 2nd at 8:00 am. According to Sassenus, applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We’re really fortunate to be able to offer this to them,” Sassenus adds. “I think it means a lot to the kids and parents, and it means a lot to us too to be able to have this available.”
Sassenus says the Denton Parks & Recreation Department also offers scholarships through the Denton Parks Foundation for the other programs and camps it offers throughout the year. “They can be used by seniors if they need to offset the cost of a membership (or) they can be used kids to take swim lessons,” she details. “It really is a great opportunity for us to make parks and recreation programs accessible to everybody.”
And for those older teens looking for summer employment, Sassenus says Parks & Recreation is currently hiring for a variety of summer positions, including camp counselors and lifeguards. “We just increased our starting wage to $15 an hour for a camp counselor and $15.50 for a lifeguard,” she reports. “That’s up a great deal from what the original starting wage was last year. We’re just trying to get additional staff on board to be able to offer those programs.”
Denton Parks & Recreation department jobs can be found online at DentonJobs.com.
Information on facilities, scholarships, programming, and upcoming special events can be found on Denton Parks & Recreation’s website, DentonParks.com. And you can browse and register for activities and programs through the department’s Rec1 Online Catalog.