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Green Bay parks program hits 100-year mark

A 1947 Parkee reads to participants at Joannes Park.
A 1947 Parkee reads to participants at Joannes Park. Today, the program spans a total of 16 parks and provides children from the ages of 6-18 years old with activities such as games, sports, crafts and special events. Green Bay Parks photo

By Eva Westein

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – This summer, Green Bay’s Parkee Program has kicked off its 100th year in operation.

The playground program was started in 1924 with only three baseballs, three bats, three volleyballs and three basketballs and included just three locations.

Today, the program spans a total of 16 parks and provides children from the ages of 6-18 years old with activities such as games, sports, crafts and special events.

Special events include a Games Day, Color Run, Drama/Skit Days, Sports Tournament and the Kiddie Karnival.

The 1954 Parkee program hosts an Amateur Hour at Fort Howard Park. Green Bay Parks photo
The 1954 Parkee program hosts an Amateur Hour at Fort Howard Park. Green Bay Parks photo

The activity leaders and staff members at each location, known as “Parkees,” are in the parks Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. to help kids get outside.

Other members of the Green Bay community are also involved in the program with events put on by the Brown County Library, Green Bay Bicycle Collective Mobile Bike Repair and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The program has even developed to include a collaboration with the Green Bay Public School District Food Service.

Last summer, this partnership provided over 11,500 summer lunches to program participants.

Green Bay Parks Recreation Supervisor Emma Magadanz said that the program plays an important role in the community by enhancing the quality of life for kids in Green Bay.

“It provides children aged 6-18 with the chance to participate in free activities designed to keep them engaged, safe and physically active… My favorite part of this program is the lives we impact every day, and every summer. A lot of our staff were once Parkees themselves and many reflect on that as now staff for the program,” she added.

Grayson Roberts, a current Parkee, understands the importance of this park program better than most.

She first became involved with the program at a young age as a park kid and the deep roots of Green Bays Parkee Program are evident.

“My family has been involved with this program since my older siblings were younger so now they have kids and their kids are now involved,” Roberts explained, “I thought this would be something fun to do during the summer because I grew up with it.”

The Parkee Program has grown and made many developmental changes over the past 100 years, but the one thing about the program that hasn’t changed since 1924 is that it is free for all children to attend.

Visit https://greenbaywi.gov/parkees to find the Parkee Program location nearest to you.

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