Families find fun on the cheap

With soaring prices this summer, many families interested in keeping a tighter budget took advantage of inexpensive, creative and fun events that did not break the bank.

The Movie in the Park series held at Garfield Park on Friday nights doubled from approximately 400 people last year to 800 people this summer, according to Rachel Teige, recreation superintendent for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Teige said a reason for the increased popularity may be the relocation from Oak Knoll Golf Course, where the event was held in summers past. The central location at the park allows more people in town to walk, run or ride their bikes to the park and save on gas, Teige said.

U.S. Cellular sponsored the event and representatives led children in games and activities before the films.

The North Mountain Nature Center also provided inexpensive and creative entertainment this summer, but did not necessarily see an increase in participation, according to secretary Sherrill Deckelman.

"We have been quite busy. I don't know if we can attribute that to the gas prices," said Deckelman, who operates the front desk at the center.

Although most summer activities are coming to a close, events will continue into the fall and can be viewed from the new Parks and Recreation Fall Guide available at /files/APRD_Fall2008Online.pdf.

The nature center will host puppet theater the second Friday of every month and will include a craft and snack for $5 per child. A geology curriculum will also operate through the Geology Park at the former Briscoe School building.

Summer is on the way out, but despite high costs of gas and travel, there are still ways to enjoy the last days of summer. There are 24 parks in Ashland, according to the Parks and Recreation office, including a dog park, railroad park, garden park and skateboard park.

For a full listing of continuing events, visit the Department of Recreation at the corner of Granite and South Pioneer streets. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., or call 488-5340.

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