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johnson county recreation
While people in Johnson County work hard, they like their downtime as well, and we offer many wonderful places for individuals and families to learn, play, relax, be active, and enjoy the outdoors. Johnson County’s dozens of parks, recreation facilities, lakes, and public gardens offer something for everyone. Checkout one of Johnson County’s 13 libraries, spend an afternoon at the Johnson County Museum, or when the weather is warm enjoy a movie or Broadway show at Theatre in The Park. Our recreational amenities play a huge role in Johnson County being a community of choice.

Recreation News

Johnson County Park & Recreation District named one of four finalists for prestigious national award

For the second consecutive year, JCPRD is a finalist for the National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), recently announced.

“To be nationally recognized in this manner is a huge honor, and to be recognized in back to back years is even more impressive,” said JCPRD Executive Director Jill Geller. “We take seriously our mission of providing high quality parks, programs, and services that enhance the lives of the residents of Johnson County.  Being a national Gold Medal Finalist is validation that we’re doing good work to that end. “

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. which demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development, and agency recognition. Applications are separated into seven classes, with five classes based on population, one class for armed forces recreation, and one class for state park systems awarded on odd-numbered years.

JCPRD is a finalist in Class I, which is for agencies serving a population over 400,000, and is the largest of the five population-based categories. The district was previously a finalist in 1991, 1993, 1994, and 2016. The agency won the Gold Medal Award in 1995.

The district offers more than 4,000 programs and activities each year, and it manages over 9,900 acres of parkland, more than 90 miles of trails, and multiple recreational facilities. A recent study by The Trust for Public Land, found that JCPRD parks, trails and programs are key economic drivers which contribute more than $97 million annually in economic benefits to the community.  Last year alone there were 2.5 million participations in the programs presented by JCPRD, and 7 million visitations to the district’s parks.

For the Gold Medal Awards, agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.  JCPRD joins three other finalists in their class that will compete for grand honors this year.  The other 2017 Class I finalists are BREC, Baton Rouge, La., Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Minneapolis, Minn. and Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, Lake Worth, Fla.  

Through a series of short essays required as part of the application process, JCPRD emphasized partnerships, conservation efforts, and public safety/outdoor education programs. Recent partnerships have included working with the city of Prairie Village on the development of the future Meadowbrook Park, working with Johnson County on the construction of the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center in the former King Louie Building, and partnering with the Shawnee Mission School District for the district to operate and manage a recently-announced new aquatic stadium in Lenexa. Conservation efforts have included the planting of 130 acres of native prairie plants over the past three years.  The application also highlighted the dual roles of Johnson County Park Police officers in law enforcement and outdoor education.

Asked how the agency has positively impacted the community in the past three years, officials noted the agency’s 4,000 programs and events serve 2.5 million participations.  Highlights included the Kansas City Corporate Challenge, which in 2016 involved 32,000 participants from 220 companies, Ernie Miller Nature Center with its new permanent exhibit that attracted 31,000 visitors within its first months of operation, JCPRD’s Out of School Time programs that impact 1,800 children daily, and the Johnson County Museum that is preparing to open a new 17,877-square-foot exhibit at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center.

A panel of five park and recreation professionals will review and judge all application materials, including five-minute videos the finalist organizations submit in early June. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.

This year’s finalists will compete for Grand Plaque Award honors this summer, and the Grand Plaque recipient in each of the categories will be announced in September at the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.nrpa.org/goldmedal or www.aapra.org.

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration is a non-profit organization founded to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators that would enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and, to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration. For more information, visit www.aapra.org

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of nearly 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.

Let "Howard and the Wompoopus" spark your imagination during mid-June special events

“A little imagination may lead to big adventures. Join Howard and discover the Wompoopus!” 

Join local Illustrator Laura Ballard as she reads her newly-released book, “Howard and the Wompoopus,” during an art-related intergenerational special event being presented twice in mid-June by the Johnson County Park & Recreation District.

This program is for all ages and is also called Howard and the Wompoopus. In the wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated book, author Allison Krieger tells a story about an imaginative character from original stories her father, whose name is also Howard, told her when she was a child. The story relates the adventures of a young boy named Howard in a magical world he creates.

Following Ballard's telling of this tale,  children will have the opportunity to create their  very own imaginative creature during the local special event!  Parents are asked to stay for the duration of the program. 

To find this program in the My JCPRD Activities catalog and online listings, browse first under fun for all and then under special events. In the catalog and when using the website’s advanced search,  look for the keyword “art.”

Howard and the Wompoopus is offered on Tuesday, June 13, and again on Saturday, June 17. Both sessions will take place beginning at 10 a.m. at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, located in the former King Louie building at 8788 Metcalf, Ave., Overland Park.  The cost for this one-hour event is $10 per person for Johnson County residents or $12 for nonresidents. For more information please call (913) 826-3163 or email devin.rumley@jocogov.org.

To register by phone, call (913) 831-3359. To register online at www.jcprd.com, click on the green “Register for Activities” button and complete a barcode search for 38952 for the June 13 session, or 38953 for the June 17 session.

The My JCPRD Activities catalog, with information and a registration form, is available for pickup at all Johnson County Library branches. 

Experience Miami, Oklahoma's, Coleman Theatre during 50 Plus Day Trip on June 11

Tucked away in the small town of Miami, Okla., is the beautiful vaudeville-style Coleman Theatre and movie house, which opened in 1929 with a full house of 1,600. Visit and experience this historic place during a mid-June day trip being offered by the  50 Plus Department of the Johnson County Park & Recreation District.

Coleman Theatre is the name of this trip. Participants will spend the day touring the theatre, learning its history, and hearing about the renovations which have taken place. After lunch, travelers will enjoy “Livin’ A Ragtime Life,” featuring Dennis James, master of the pipe organ, and legendary Broadway vocalist, Ron Young.  Dennis James will accompany Ron Young with authentic ragtime-era music, and present two silent films.

To find this program in the My JCPRD Activities catalog and online listings, browse first under 50 Plus and then under travel. In the catalog and when using the website’s advanced search, look for the keywords “day trip.”

This trip will leave at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 11,  from Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch, Merriam, and return at approximately 5 p.m. that day. The cost is for this nine -hour day trip, including  tours, admission, lunch, and transportation,  is $79 per person.  For more information or to register, call (913) 826-3030. To see this program online at www.jcprd.com, click on the green “Register for Activities” button and complete a barcode search for 39057.

While JCPRD’s 50 Plus programs are primarily for people who are age 50 or older, interested parties who have not yet reached that magic age may still be able to attend. Persons 18 and older who are interested in a 50 Plus class are invited to call the 50 Plus Department at (913) 826-3030 for space availability.

Printed copies of the My JCPRD Activities catalog are available for pickup at all Johnson County Library branches. 

50 Plus Plans June 10 Adventure Hike in Missouri's Van Meter State Park

Visit Missouri's Van Meter State Park during an adventure hike being offered in early June by the 50 Plus Department of the Johnson County Park & Recreation District.

The program is called Van Meter State Park Adventure Hike and will take place on Saturday, June 10. This 1,104-acre park is located in north-central Missouri north of Marshall, Mo., amidst the remnants of the Missouria Tribe village at the great bend of the Missouri River. Hike participants will hike the hills, the rugged earth trails, and the wetland boardwalks to see the burial grounds, a hand-dug earthwork fort, and visit Missouri's American Indian Cultural Center.

This hike is expected to require a difficult of exertion due to steep elevation changes and a variety of terrain. To find this program in the My JCPRD Activities catalog and online listings, browse first under 50 plus and then under nature & outdoors. In the printed catalog and when using the website’s advanced search,  look for the keywords “adventure hike.”

This program will depart at 8 a.m. from Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch, Merriam, and return about 5 p.m. the same day. The cost for one nine-hour outing, including transportation to the walk site, is $31 per person for Johnson County residents or $34 for nonresidents. Lunch (with costs on your own) will take place at  Picosita's Grill & Pizzeria in Marshall. For more information or to register, call (913) 831-3359. To register online at www.jcprd.com, click on the green the “Register for Activities” link and complete a barcode search for 39010.

While JCPRD’s 50 Plus programs are primarily for people who are age 50 or older, interested parties who have not yet reached that magic age may still be able to attend. Persons 18 and older who are interested in a 50 Plus class are invited to call the 50 Plus Department at (913) 826-3030 for space availability.

The My JCPRD Activities catalog is available for pickup at all Johnson County Library branches. 

50 Plus Bingo programs continue on June 7 & 14

"Fiesta" and "4th of July" are the themes of bingo game sessions being offered in June by the 50 Plus Department of the Johnson County Park & Recreation District.

All bingo sessions begin at 1:30 p.m. and will feature a dozen games of bingo, as well as food, prizes, and fun. Bingo prizes include gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses. The cost for each two-hour program  is $5 per person for Johnson County residents or $6 for nonresidents. Advance registration is required.

To find this program in the My JCPRD Activities catalog and online listings, browse first under 50 plus and then under enrichment & special interests. In the catalog and when using the website’s advanced search, look for the keyword “games.”

"Fiesta" is the theme for the first  June bingo session on June 7 at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center,  11902 Lowell, Overland Park (barcode 39147);  while a session called "4th of July" will take place on June 14  at the Mill Creek Activity Center, 6518 Vista Dr., Shawnee (barcode 39148).

Other upcoming 50 Plus Bingo programs being planned include:  "Baseball" on July 19 at the Sunset Building, 11811 S. Sunset Dr., Olathe (barcode 39149); "Ice Cream Sundae" on July 27  at the Roeland Park Community Center (barcode 39150);  and "Back to School" on Aug. 16  at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center (barcode 39151).

For more information or to register, call (913) 831-3359. To register online at www.jcprd.com, follow the “Register for Activities” link and complete a barcode search for the five-digit codes listed  above.

While JCPRD’s 50 Plus programs are primarily for people who are age 50 or older, interested parties who have not yet reached that magic age may still be able to attend. Persons 18 and older who are interested in a 50 Plus class are invited to call the 50 Plus Department at (913) 826-3030 for space availability.

Printed copies of the My JCPRD  Activities catalog are available for pickup at all Johnson County Library branches.

 

Animal Tales Storytime sessions continue on June 7 & 21 at Ernie Miller Nature Center

Animal Tales Storytime sessions will continue during June at the Johnson County Park & Recreation District’s Ernie Miller Nature Center in Olathe. Young children and their parents are invited to come listen and learn during sessions on June 7 and 21.

Animal Tales Storytime is for ages two to six. All children must be accompanied by an adult. This program will feature stories, songs, and surprises. Participants will also get to meet a special animal friend at each session. Animal Tales Storytime was one of the many programs cited when the Ernie Miller Nature Center won an Oracle Award for Organizational Service and Leadership in the South Central Region from the National Storytelling Network a few years ago. To find this program in the My JCPRD Activities catalog and online listings, browse first under preschool and then under nature & outdoors. In the catalog and when using the website’s advanced search, look for the keyword “storytelling.”

June sessions include a program on June 7 when the theme is, "Peek in a Pond," and a June 21 sessions when the theme is "Forest Friends.  Other upcoming storytime sessions are scheduled for: " July 5, "Snake Surprise;" and July 19, "Turtle Time."  Each session takes place on a Wednesday and will begin at 10:30 a.m.

The cost per 30-minute session is $2 per person, including adults, payable at the event. Advance registrations are not necessary for this program.

Ernie Miller Nature Center is located at 909 N. Kansas-7 Highway, Olathe. For more information, contact the Nature Center at (913) 764-7759.

Learn about upcoming travel destinations when JCPRD presents two 50 Plus Travel Shows on June 6

Join fellow travelers in search of new destinations to explore and trips to take when the 50 Plus Department of the  Johnson County Park & Recreation District presents two Travel Shows on June 6 at the new Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center.

During these free three-hour events, participants will meeting their 50 Plus travel professionals while previewing our scheduled destinations and beautiful vacation spots.  Learn about the benefits of choosing to travel with us and see photos of our past travel experiences.  Brochures and itineraries are available to help you choose where you want to go on your first trip, your tenth trip, or your 50th trip!  Attendees are eligible for door prizes and Travel Show booking incentives.

One Travel Show will take place beginning at 1 p.m., while another will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m., both on Tuesday, June 6, at the  Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, in the former King Louie Building. Call (913) 826-3030 to RSVP.

While JCPRD’s 50 Plus programs are primarily for people who are age 50 or older, interested parties who have not yet reached that magic age may still be able to attend. Persons 18 and older who are interested in a 50 Plus class are invited to call the 50 Plus Department at (913) 826-3030 for space availability.

The My JCPRD Activities catalog is available for pickup at all Johnson County Library branches. 

2017 season of Movies in the Park begins on June 6 with “Moana”

On June 6, a recent animated Disney favorite kicks off a schedule of films planned for the Movies in the Park program this summer at the Johnson County Park & Recreation District’s The Theatre in the Park.

Through this program, a total of four films will be shown on a 40-foot screen on the theatre stage on specified summer nights when musical productions are not scheduled. Beginning June 6, films will screen on specific Tuesday nights during the theatre’s regular season. Films will begin between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m., depending on sunset, and the cost is only $1 per person. Gates open on movie nights at 7:30 p.m.

To kick off this year’s program, Disney Animation Studio’s “Moana,” will be shown on June 6, and the Illumination Entertainment movie “Sing” will be shown on June 20. Other movie nights in the series include: a July 18 showing of “Pitch Perfect;” an Aug. 1 showing of Pixar Animation Studio’s “Finding Dory;”

With the sole exception of “Pitch Perfect;” which is Rated PG-13, all of this year’s films are rated PG. For more about this year’s film lineup, including ratings information, go to www.theatreinthepark.org/movies.” This year’s Movies in the Park presentations are sponsored by Shawnee Mission Health.

Please note that the theatre’s usual rain-out policy does not apply to movie nights. Due to licensing restrictions, if a movie has to be cancelled due to inclement weather, no refunds will be issued and no tickets will be revalidated.

The Theatre in the Park is located north of the main entrance to Shawnee Mission Park with a separate entrance at 7710 Renner Road in Shawnee. 

Overnight fishing opportunities set for June 3, 10, and 24 at JCPRD lakes

The first of two Overnight Fishing Saturdays planned this summer at Heritage Park and Kill Creek Park, and the second of four at Shawnee Mission Park Lake are planned in June. This year's Overnight Fishing Saturdays began in mid-May and involve nine dates and four Johnson County Park & Recreation District parks.

The Heritage Park overnight fishing opportunity is June 3, the opportunity at Kill Creek Park  is June 10, and the opportunity at Shawnee Mission Park is June 24. After 11 p.m. on these respective dates, the specific park will be open strictly for fishing only and park police officers will be on duty throughout the night. Fishing will be allowed from the bank or from watercraft. Park safety officials noted state law requires a white light be on at all times on boats on the water after sunset.

To find the overnight fishing events in the My JCPRD Activities catalog, browse first under fun for all and then under special events. In the catalog the keyword for this program is “fishing.”

Before fishing  in district waters, Kansas residents ages 16 to 74 and nonresidents 16 and older need to have a Kansas state fishing license, and all appropriate boat tags, if applicable. Additionally, Johnson County residents ages 16 to 64 and non-county residents  age 16 and older must have a JCPRD fishing permit. Permits are available at the JCPRD Registration Office, Building D, 6501 Antioch Road, Merriam;  at Visitor Services in the JCPRD Administration Building in Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road; and at numerous local retail outlets.

This year’s other Overnight Fishing Saturdays at Shawnee Mission Park are planned for July 22, and Aug. 19. Additional overnight Fishing Saturdays are also being offered on July 15 at Heritage Park, Aug. 12 at Kill Creek Park, and Sept. 16 at the new Lexington Lake Park, which will open this summer.

Kill Creek Park is located at 11670 Homestead Lane, Olathe, while Shawnee Mission Park is located at 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa. Heritage Park is located at 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe, while Lexington Lake Park is located north of Kansas 10 Highway near the Lexington Avenue exit in De Soto. Specific directions will be publicized once the park opens.

For more information about the overnight fishing program, call Visitor Services at (913) 888-4713.

Western parking lot at Shawnee Mission Park Off-Leash Area to be closed for removal and replacement beginning in March

The western parking lot at the Shawnee Mission Park Dog Off-Leash Area will be closed to the public beginning in mid-March as the lot is replaced and expanded, Johnson County Park & Recreation District officials announced.

The off-leash area itself is not closing at this time, and the closer eastern parking lot will remain open, although officials warn that parking will be extremely limited during this project, which could take up to 180 days to complete. A temporary driveway will allow patrons to access the off-leash parking lot from the western edge of the eastern lot.

When completed, the existing western parking lot's 32 parking spaces will be replaced with a double-wide 68-space lot which will be expanded to the west and include handicapped parking spaces compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Patrons may notice park maintenance crews removing the chain-link fence on the western side of the parking lot in the coming week in preparation for the parking lot replacement project, and the placement of fill dirt to the west where the new portion of the lot will be located.

While no timeframe has been set at this time, officials are anticipating another project within the Shawnee Mission Park Off-Leash Area, which is expected to completely close the facility for about two weeks later this year. That project will involve paving the main trail from the parking lot all the way to the beach to make it ADA accessible.

Shawnee Mission Park is owned and operated by the Johnson County Park & Recreation District and is located at 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa. Regular park hours are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. 

Upcoming Events

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May 24, 2017 | 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

22nd Annual In Step and In Shape Walk

June 2, 2017 | 7:00 pm to 7:45 pm

Stories Under the Stars

June 3, 2017 | 5:00 am to 11:00 pm

Free Fishing, Boating & Archery Weekend