The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is happy to announce a brand new park! Kids can swing, slide, spin, and more at Belvedere Heights Park, a neighborhood park located in West Palm Beach. Watch this video to learn about the park and its amenities!
Carlito was known to “do it all”. He not only helped everyday at Green Cay Nature Center maintaining the boardwalk, cleaning, landscaping and more, but he was always willing to lend a hand with animal care and
special projects, and he became a very strong advocate for wildlife conservation. Carlito attended every special event, and was at the nature center every single day.
Being at Green Cay for over 7 years and dedicating nearly 6,500 hours of service, there is so much that Carlito needs be recognized for. He was always dependable and would show up every single day to assist in maintenance of Green Cay Nature Center. No physical task was too much. He would always enthusiastically lend a helping hand. Whether it was fixing something, installing a new nest box, or cleaning up trash in the entire parking lot, Carlito became an asset to our volunteer family.
Always smiling and willing to share with others his latest wildlife discovery, he loved nature and loved to share this passion with every visitor. Carlito was never afraid to get his hands dirty! Working at a nature center is tough work! It is very physically demanding at times,
working in the Florida sun for hours cutting back trees and debris; it is no easy task. Carlito completed these tasks along with positively interacting with the public. He loved taking photographs of reptiles, birds, bobcats, and the staff members daily! Carlito would love helping out with all of our animal ambassadors at Green Cay, but his favorite, of course, is Oliver the Eastern Screech-Owl.
He was high energy, hard working, dependable, and honest. Carlito has all the qualities ideal in a volunteer and will be truly missed!
What is the biggest personal benefit he received as a volunteer with our department? “Working with great people everyday, especially the other volunteers, has built friendships and experiences that will be remembered always. All the experiences I have had with the animal ambassadors and wildlife has built my appreciation for them as well as the importance of sharing with others how we all benefit by protecting them.”
Interesting facts about Carlito: Carlito is unique in the fact that he is a Deaf individual, proud of his culture. Working as a volunteer at Green Cay, we see that this is no obstacle or something to overcome, but simply a part of his personality. He has never held back expressing himself and communicating with staff, volunteers, or visitors. Carlito loved to teach us Sign and we tried to learn a few things each day. He is high energy! And always smiling! And we see how much he absolutely enjoyed coming to Green Cay daily. He has moved to Puerto Rico with his dad, Carlos Padilla, who recently retired from Green Cay Nature Center. Carlito has set a high bar for our future maintenance volunteers! We wish him all the best in his new adventure and thank him ever so much for his dedication to Green Cay Nature Center.
Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department staff are constantly springing into action – on March 30, staff helped set up the COVID-19 testing site located at FitTeam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Staff helped with this tremendous effort by filling sandbags, positioning generators, making and delivering signage, among other tasks!
“We say it all year long – parks save lives – thank for stepping up again in our community’s time of need to make a difference.” -Jennifer Cirillo, pbcParks Assistant Director
Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Public Service Professionals are helping to fill much-needed roles across the county during this challenging time of general park closures. Many staff members have ventured away from their typical park-related roles in order to assist where critically needed. Here are just some of the ways staff has been assisting through various emergency and community roles:
• Staff has been deployed through the EDRP to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), including Ocean Rescue EMTs who have been screening people entering the EOC per CDC guidelines
• Recreation Programs Supervisor Cliff Battles is also at the EOC and is adeptly handling many Logistics Section and municipal mission/resource requests
• Public Relations Specialist Bibi Baksh was activated to the EOC in the Public Information Unit and helped pull together the 4:00 P.M. press conference
• Several designated EOA members from throughout the Department have also been activated to help set-up the COVID-19 Drive-through Testing Site at Fit Team Ballpark of the Palm Beaches with the multiple partner agencies; the department’s sign shop is busy producing signs critical to this effort
• Several forklift drivers are assisting at the Countywide Staging Area (CSA) at the fairgrounds, where supplies from the State are coming in, being sorted and distributed to a prioritized list including hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, etc…
These roles are in addition to the thousands of less visible but critical ways staff makes a difference through answering questions, educating the public, securing parks, sharing social media experiences to provide for a moment of stress relief or to inform, maintaining natural habitats, and more.
During these unprecedented times, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department staff continue to work in various roles to serve the community. Here are just two visible examples of the amazing work that PBC Parks and Recreation professionals are up to during this challenging time of general park closure to public park use.
A mobile shower unit in partnership with non-profit “Shower the People“ is visiting the John Prince Park homeless encampment twice a week starting Saturday, March 28 to help people in need with preventative hygiene needs. Additional hand washing stations were also installed. The Park Operations, Park Rangers, Trades, JPP Maintenance Team, Special Facilities Special Events Section, and Administration teams collaborated to make this happen in short order.
Our animal ambassadors continue to need care and Daggerwing Nature Center staff brought environmental education into homes of students and adults alike: great work, Sean, Lila, and Daggerwing staff! You can view daily feeding videos of the nature center’s animals on their Facebook page.
There are countless opportunities for you and your best friend to stay active inside PBC Parks! Watch this video to learn about four county-operated dog parks, as well as other locations you and your pup can go to play.
The Palm Beach County Parks to Work Program is an effort that combines the forces of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, Community Services Department, Salvation Army, and other community partners to help homeless individuals who are living in John Prince Park in Lake Worth get resources to escape homelessness.
Miguel Crespo is the program’s first success story. Crespo started in the 6-month program in February 2018 and was able to obtain seasonal employment with the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department as a result of his experience as a Parks to Work participant. In March 2019, Crespo obtained a full-time position as a maintenance employee with the department, working primarily at Peanut Island in Riviera Beach. The program has allowed Crespo to successfully transition out of homelessness, obtain a job, buy a car, and secure permanent housing.
Watch this video to learn more about Miguel Crespo’s story and the Parks to Work Program.
PBC Parks’ Volunteer Spotlight highlights our talented and dedicated volunteers! Meet DuBois Pioneer Home volunteer, Kim Ryan, one of the four “original” Dubois Pioneer Home historical docents. Watch the video to learn about Ryan – including why she volunteers and what reactions she gets from visitors! Docents provide guests with quality, educational, and enriching experiences by giving educational tours throughout the DuBois House exhibit. Consider becoming a docent at the DuBois House located at DuBois Park in Jupiter! Call PBC Parks Volunteer Services at 561-966-6609 for more information.
Picnicking is a great family activity! It’s a great opportunity to get away from the traditional setting of a dinner table and head out to a natural environment.
Benefits of picnicking:
- Spend time outdoors in a serene setting: being outdoors has been proven to boost moods, reduce stress levels, and improve overall mental wellness. This is a chance for you and your family to be away from the stresses of every day life and enjoy a natural setting.
- Bond with family members: because many people live fast-paced lifestyles, there aren’t many opportunities to slow down and spend meaningful time with the people who matter. Play games, get up and walk, or simply sit still and bond over a good meal.
- Communicate more effectively: small talk, or even deep conversations, are essential to any good picnic. Head out and learn more about what’s going on with your family members – whether it’s school, work or friends – this is a great opportunity to connect with the people you care about and encourage effective communication skills in kids.
- Develop healthy eating habits: instead of buying a pre-made meal to enjoy on a picnic, try preparing a meal for your next picnic trip. Meals prepared at home are typically healthier and more nutritious than pre-made meals. Make sure you include all the basics for a full, healthy meal.
- Encourage active lifestyles: having group or family picnics consistently can allow families to form traditions that are passed down from generation to generation; make picnics a habit and turn it into an outing! Bring supplies for games like tug-of-war, soccer or football and encourage the kids to get up before eating to fit in some physical activity during the picnic.
Where to picnic at #pbcParks:
Picnic areas are available at no charge from sunrise until sunset on a first-come, first-served basis at the following park locations. Visit this page fore a list of all picnicking locations in our parks: http://discover.pbcgov.org/parks/Amenities/Picnicking.aspx.
Check out municipal parks in or near your town or city for additional picnicking locations.
Note: please do not feed wild or stray animals. Animals that are fed can become aggressive and harass people. Wild or stray animals can become extremely territorial and bite the hand that feeds them. This can transmit disease. Animals that become used to human contact are susceptible to disease, injury, and random acts of violence. The survival skills of wild animals are threatened when they lose the ability to forage naturally for food. This can happen when they are fed by hand or when they eat food left out for stray or abandoned pets. Stray animals hunt and kill native wildlife, even when well fed.
In addition to the many recreational activities parents and kids can do together at more than 80 Palm Beach County parks and recreation facilities, there are a number of popular events that are hosted annually in #pbcParks. These events are designed to educate people of all ages and bring together parents and kids to create an appreciation for different topics, ranging from the environment to fitness and accessible sports.
Here are some popular free events:
Dark Sky Event
Every year, the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and Department of Environmental Resources Management “celebrate
the night and turn down the lights” by Hosting their Dark Sky Festival at Okeeheelee Nature Center. The event is held at night, typically from the hours of 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. in February. The Dark Sky Festival aims to expose people of all ages to the marvels of astronomy and the importance of protecting dark skies for the benefit of human health and wildlife.
Parents and kids can:Stargaze with local astronomers
- Enjoy exhibits and nature walks
- Enjoy a children’s activity area
- Make s’mores by a campfire
- Learn night-time photography tips
- And more!
Information about the Palm Beach County Dark Sky Festival can be found here: http://www.co.palm-beach.fl.us/erm/darkskyfest/
Outdoor Adventure Day
The first ever Outdoor Adventure Day is in John Prince Park on Saturday, March 4th! PBC Parks partners with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to bring the Lake Worth and surrounding community an event where youth and adults can safely learn and experience outdoor recreation opportunities like canoeing, fishing, archery, rock climbing and more.
The event helps get people outside and active, create a more active community and expose parents and youth to unique sports they can do together. By teaching our community these sports at no charge, they learn to be more active in their everyday lives and appreciate being in natural settings.
Family Fun Fests
The aim of Family Fun Fests is to allow parents and kids to get out and get active through dance, bounce houses, rock climbing, and team sports like soccer. These family-friendly activities are intended to get everyone active and moving, from the youngest member in the family to the oldest. Health and Wellness partners present at these events give community members a chance to get important information about their health and wellness, including free health screenings. Free resources are available for residents from partners around the community.
The annual Migration Celebration at Green Cay Nature Center welcomes adults, kids and bird lovers alike to the event to learn about migratory birds returning to the wetlands and become familiar with other animals, like reptiles, living at the facility. The Migration Celebration exposes people of all ages to a unique nature center inside Palm Beach County, while enlightening them on topics related to wildlife conservation and environmental protection.
Kids can take part in animal-related activities like interactive puppet shows and arts and crafts with education and conservation themes. Parents can join their kids as they watch for dozens of different birds at the nature center.
The nature centers also host annual events celebrating Earth Day. At Daggerwing and Okeeheelee Nature Centers, guests can explore the nature center grounds, connect with nature, and participate in conservation events and efforts.
Knock and Roll Tournament – Wheelchair Rugby
Every year, PBC Parks welcomes wheelchair rugby players from all over the country and the world, for the annual Knock and Roll Tournament. The different teams go head-to-head for the trophy in a three-day tournament at the Therapeutic Recreation Complex inside John Prince Park in Lake Worth.
Wheelchair Rugby, or Quad Rugby, is a game for individuals with disabilities; the players glide down the court, bumping and hitting each other’s chairs along the way, in what makes for an exciting and powerful sport meant to increase athletic participation among individuals with physical disabilities.
People of all ages and abilities can watch this exciting game every year at the TR Complex – and cheer on their favorite team while they bump and glide past each other!
Pioneer Farmstead, Living History Days & Battlefield Re-enactments
Riverbend Park and Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park often host historical family events like Pioneer Farmstead Day and Battlefield Re-enactments, which allow families to take a step back in time and learn about all realms of the historical battles that took place in the 19th century in these areas.
The events often feature different historical aspects for families to enjoy. Riverbend Park’s Living History Day in November 2015 focused on a variety of topics, including battlefield education, pioneers, and homesteaders education. Visitors can experience “Old Florida” and learn about the history of the area through many points of view. Period army, Seminole camps, re-enactors, guest speakers and historical preservationists are often present at these historical events, all inside two of Palm Beach County’s beautiful and most popular parks.
There’s so much going on inside #pbcParks! To stay up-to-date with what’s going on, be sure to subscribe to Leisure Times Online, a monthly list of events that are happening inside PBC Parks.
The mission of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is to make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations. For information about more leisure opportunities available through Palm Beach County, visit www.pbcparks.com.