Greenwood parks and rec goes virtual during pandemic

Greenwood’s community center and playgrounds may be closed, but the city’s parks and recreation department is still hard at work bringing activities to its residents, albeit in a different format. 

When the city closed its community center March 13, the parks and recreation department thought of new ways to continue to involve the community remotely. That’s when they came up with RecTV, a daily live Facebook broadcast and YouTube channel where staff livestreams activities, from virtual science to bingo.

"We still needed to do our outlet of recreational programs, even though we couldn’t do it face-to-face," said Rob Taggart, Greenwood’s parks and rec director. "This was just a matter of trying to help people and keep them occupied."

Each day brings a new activity, all products of weekly brainstorming sessions among department staff, said Nick Schwab, a parks and rec employee. 

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"It takes some planning," Schwab said. "Each week, we sit down and we kind of brainstorm to figure out what will work."

Miscellaneous Monday kicks off the week. The staff tries their hand at random activities, such as the "Beanboozled Challenge," where they try different odd-flavored jelly beans. They also produced a video of them playing homemade indoor games that folks at home can also make, such as Skee-Ball, using laundry baskets as targets, and a ring toss, using paper plates with holes cut in the middle.

Then there’s Tasty Tuesday, where the staff cooks up recipes viewers can easily make themselves at home, from tacos to apple and zucchini chips.

The rest of week includes Word Wednesday Bingo, Trivia Thursday and Virtual Science Friday.

For Virtual Science, Jeff Madsen, a longtime parks and rec staff member, takes on the made-up persona of Dr. Jeff-stein, Albert Einstein’s long-lost cousin, to perform science experiments viewers can do at home.

So far, Madsen’s built a volcano using Mentos and soda, and blown up a balloon using Pop Rocks and soda. 

This week, the staff has a whole week of Easter-related activities planned, including a re-imagined Easter egg hunt called, "Egg Your House," Taggart said. 

"The staff has been really on top of things, coming up with these ideas," he said.

Instead of going out and hunting Easter eggs, residents can make their own "eggs" to put on the front of their homes, either out of coloring pages, papier-mâché, balloons or by drawing eggs on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. Then, they’re instructed to post a picture of their "egged" house on social media and tag @GreenwoodParks and #EggYourHousewithGreenwoodParks for a chance to win a free Easter basket at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

So far, the community has seemed to enjoy the daily broadcasts and activities. Some of videos have reached almost 2,000 viewers, Schwab said.

And other communities are taking note. Several have reached out to Taggart for tips on how their parks departments can do this too, he said. 

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RecTV Daily Broadcasts

When: 3 p.m.

Where: Greenwood Parks and Recreation Facebook page.

Daily Activities:

Miscellaneous Monday

Tasty Tuesday

Word Wednesday Bingo

Trivia Thursday

Virtual Science Friday

Greenwood "Egg Your House."

When: Today until 3 p.m. Thursday

Where: Greenwood Parks and Recreation social media pages.

How to participate:

Make your own Easter eggs either by coloring print-out pictures, making eggs out of balloons or drawing eggs on your driveway.

Take a picture of your egg creation somewhere on the front of your house or in your yard and post it to social media tagging, @GreenwoodParks and #EggYourHousewithGreenwoodParks.

The winner will receive a free Easter gift bucket. Winners will be announced on RecTV at 3 p.m. Thursday.