PARK and RECREATION EXPO
by Jim Ball, Director, Roselle Park District
The Expo included:
ACTIVITIES. Demonstrations of baton twirling and marching formats, belly dancing for health as well as artistic expression, physical conditioning through exercise, childrens art and crafts, drama including improvisation and pantomime, gymnastic stunts and skills, square dancing, tennis fundamentals, boxing and other martial acts. Also featured were programs for Senior Citizens and special recreation for handicapped children.
THE ZOOMOBILE. The Lincoln Park Zoo brought their mobile zoo of small animals and an interpreter to the three day event.
HORTICULTURAL AND PARK DISPLAYS. A park-like atmosphere was created throughout the shopping center by bringing in plants and flowers. Park equipment such as tractors, ice scrapers, Vermeer tree removers and sign making displays provided the shoppers with information and prompted many interesting questions. Several County Forest Preserves provided elaborate interpretive display booths with Staff for public inquiry.
ENTERTAINMENT. Over 18 hours of entertainment was gathered from different Park Districts for the public to enjoy at their leisure. Programs scheduled during the three day Expo included several rock bands, a barbershop quartet, two choirs, belly dancing, teen band and baton troop, a drum and bugle Corp., a one-act play and lots of other quality Park District performers.
The motive behind this event was to do something about the lack of public awareness towards Parks and Recreation. Each year SPRA, NRPA, IPRS and other professional organizations have talked at numerous length on making the public aware of what Parks and Recreation means and actually does. The membership of SPRA realized that by using Woodfield Shopping Center, which has a weekend attendance of over 100,000 people, for a three day Park and Recreation Expo, we would not only make the shoppers aware of us, but our coverage by radio, T.V., and the papers would be tremendous. In a short conversation, SPRA was able to outline Expo to the Promotion
Illinois Parks and Recreation 6 January/February, 1976
Director of Woodfield, who enthusiastically received and saw the potential for the Woodfield area and the people of Chicago.
Organizational meetings were set up when it was decided that the Expo would be presented to the public. In order to achieve SPRA's goal, it was decided by member Park Districts and Recreation Departments involved, that they would work together.
The Activities Committee provided the needed staff and equipment for numerous recreation and program activities that are normally held in most Park Districts, i.e. cultural activities, sports, arts and crafts, etc. Many of the activities actually had active participation from the shoppers visiting the Mall.
The Committee learned several things from having the display. If you plan on having tennis demonstrations, enclose the whole teaching area with nets, so that the balls do not hit the shoppers. Do not bring straw into the shopping area for a Penny Carnival because it will be tracked all over the Mall. Those activities that cause people to stop and watch should be in areas where pedestrian traffic can flow around the spectators.
The SPRA Display Committee was in charge of creating a park-like atmosphere throughout the different sections of the Mall. They included Horticultural displays, working displays and information booths. Their work began on the evening before the Expo as soon as the Center closed. The logistics of moving in equipment and displays was coordinated as if a military operation was going on.
Several problems that developed were that one piece of equipment could not come through the doors and it had to be left outside for viewing, that the noise level of the sign cutter was too great, and that the size of another display caused complaints from several shop operators. The setup and dismantling was accomplished rapidly and efficiently.
The Publicity Committee contacted over 200 area newspapers, 30 radio stations, and 2 T.V. Stations to provide coverage of the event. They were assisted by the Woodfield Public Relations Office, however they were not able to acquire the T.V. news coverage. The Committee also had buttons and balloons for the shoppers. With all the local newspapers carrying from one to two articles on the Expo, the local Park Districts received additional publicity.
The SPRA Project took ten months of planning and co-ordinating to provide a quality look at Parks and Recreation for this 1975 Expo. The accomplishments of the goals came about because hundreds of professionals stopped talking and cooperated to bring an idea into reality. In considering our success, it is the feeling of SPRA that any Park District or Recreation Department could develop their own Expo in their Community or combine with other local agencies to provide a similar display of leisure services offered to the public. All that is needed for a project like this is to adapt this to the local shopping center and to follow good developmental procedures in getting organizations to work together.
(Editor's Note: In March, SPRA will have developed a handout with information on establishing a LOCAL PARK AND RECREATION EXPO. Contact Mr. Jim Ball, Director, Roselle Park District for this information.)
Illinois Parks and Recreation 7 January/February, 1976