Play for free this Saturday

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010

The trails, tidelines and local Parks & Recreation facilities, such as Treadwell Ice Arena, will be bursting at the seams Saturday with free activities, food, presentations and prizes for the public.

All are aimed at getting folks outside, active and enthusiastic about all that Juneau has to offer.

National Public Lands Day

There'll be a celebration of National Lands Day at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and the newly completed, ADA accessible, Trail of Time. Crews with SAGA and the U.S. Forest Service have invited locals of all ages to help connect this new trail to the trail systems of the Mendenhall Valley. Beginning at 9 a.m. in the Mendenhall Visitor Center bus parking lot, off of Glacier Spur Road, participants can enjoy a morning snack and beverage before hitting the trail to help with revegetation and some light trail work. Sara Nieft, Americorps team leader, said this is a great opportunity for people to see, first hand, what it takes to construct local trails and to get a look at the new area trail built with the help of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"This year's theme is going to be 'Climate Change,'" Nieft said. "That's why we picked the Trail of Time, because it depicts the receding of the glacier."

On a personal note, Nieft said "as an artist and trail worker, I enjoy the simple satisfactions associated with creating trails throughout my favorite natural places. The efforts of the Forest Service, SAGA and local trail crews all work together to make our forests accessible and enjoyable. National Public Lands Day is an opportunity for local residents to come and share in the art of trail work."

Ultimately the work done Saturday will help create a wooded corridor that will provide an opportunity for locals and visitors to travel to and from the Mendenhall Glacier without setting foot on a paved road or pathway.

"We at the Forest Service really appreciate SAGA helping us create this link that will help people get off the road system," said Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center Interpreter Laurie Craig. "We just want to say thank you to all the people who are, and will be, out there making this possible."

After a morning of working outside, the event continues with free admission into the Mendenhall Visitor Center. The event lasts until 1 p.m. and there will be a free lunch, door prizes and presentations from SAGA members.

In addition, the final event in this summer's Forest Explorers Program will also be held at noon, departing from the pavilion. This program is designed for children 4 to 6 years old and their parents and/or caregivers, however everyone is welcome. This week's activity is "Trees Please!" Participants will learn how to correctly plant a tree at the Mendenhall Glacier by being a junior forester. Following will be a trail-building tools demonstration.

For more on National Lands Day, contact Nieft or Sara De Leo, at 790-3091, or e-mail

International Coastal Cleanup Day

Another morning event will be the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day, locally organized with the help of the Juneau Watershed Partnership, Turning the Tides, the Marine Coastal Alliance and the Alaskan Brewing Co. In its fourth year, the event is sponsored by the Coastal CODE Foundation and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.

Beverly Schoonover, executive director of the Juneau Watershed Partnership, said volunteers participating in this event, which is aimed at cleaning up beaches all over the world, collected 7 million pounds of garbage internationally last year. Locally, 120 participants picked up 6,000 pounds of garbage in 2009.

"The best part," she said, "is (that garbage) is not there anymore. It's in a proper place."

This year, Schoonover said local businesses and youth groups have organized to clean beaches from Dupont northward to Echo Cove. The public is invited to help clean the areas of Sandy Beach and Auke Recreation Area from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Volunteers are asked to make sure they pick up a garbage bag and fill out data cards so organizers can track both the type and volume of garbage collected.

"It's really interesting to see what types of garbage is picked up," Schoonover said. "Last year, we found tons of foam."

A free hot dog barbecue will happening at Auke Rec. to show the groups' appreciation for volunteers.

"Even if people have half an hour Saturday," Schoonover said. "Just walk Sandy Beach to get some exercise (and fill out a data card). Every little bit helps because there's just so much out there."

Day of Play

To celebrate Juneau's recent designation as Alaska's first "Playful City USA" the local Parks & Recreation Department has decided to open up facilities, gyms, playgrounds, trails and parks Saturday to the public free of charge from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Additionally, each location will boast free organized activities for all ages and attendees will have an opportunity to win prizes.

Kevin Brady, Parks & Landscape superintendent with Parks & Recreation, said the event is essentially one big celebration and also an extension of the theme of the Parks & Recreation Department.

"It's (also) a spin-off of the first lady's effort to fight childhood obesity - to get (kids) out and moving around - regardless of the weather," he said.

Highlights include a "Last Blast of Summer Open Swim" at Augustus Brown Pool, a "Preschool Open Gym" at Mount Jumbo Gym, a "Trucks-N-Stuff" event at Savikko Park and the Juneau-Douglas City Museum will host a hands-on history room and clothespin arts and crafts. There will also be a "Disco Ice Skate" at Treadwell Ice Arena. The culmination of the day's events will happen in the evening at Pioneer Pavilion in Douglas with prize drawings and music.

To be eligible to win any of the prizes offered, attendees must fill out a "passport to play" card and visit the designated Parks & Recreation facilities. When finished with the play day, participants can place their punched card in the prize boxes found at each location. The more facilities that are visited, the better the prizes. Some of the prizes offered include passes to the Treadwell Ice Arena, a museum gift pack, a free birthday party at Mount Jumbo Gym and a family pass to the new Dimond Park Aquatic Center, which Brady said is worth over $800. And, people don't have to be present to win.

"There's a lot happening," Brady said. "That's one of the big reasons we're doing this ... people don't often know (that places like) the City Museum, the Treadwell Arena and Centennial Hall are part of the Parks & Recreation Department. We're all one big happy family."

The KaBOOM! organization, which gave Juneau the designation, is a national nonprofit with the ultimate mission of creating a place to play within walking distance for all children in America.

For more information about the event, go online to

• Contact Outdoors editor Abby Lowell at

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