Party in the Park series takes over Creekside

BY HOPE WILSON | JUNE 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department has teamed up with neighborhood associations across the city to bring a sixth summer of Party in the Park events. Today, Creekside Park will host free music, crafts, and ice cream from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Party in the Park showcases a different park, musician, and set of activities each Thursday. The upcoming event will feature music from local musician Ron Hillis, known as "Mr. Variety and His Music."

Theresa Heitz, the leader of Party in the Park, said she enjoys changing things up at each event. Continuing the tradition from last year, she will include a variety of sustainable activities for the party-goers.

"I like to incorporate recycling and nature components to the crafts we demonstrate," Heitz said. "Last year, we up-cycled grocery sacks into jump ropes. This year, I have a craft that is going to used recycled coffee grounds."

Attendance at Party in the Park have ranged from 50 to 200 people, depending on the location of the event and the weather. In addition to those residing around the featured park, program supervisor Joyce Carroll said Party in the Park has a collection of fans who follow the entire series.

"People of all ages and walks of life come out for Party in the Park," she said. "We even have our own set of 'groupies' who come to all or almost all of our events."

Organizers said they build community between regions by partnering with neighborhood associations, who help to promote the events, as well as to customize the activities to fit the interests of the residents.

Karen Nichols, one of the Creekside Neighborhood Association's co-heads, has helped to bring a variety of activities to the upcoming Party in the Park. In addition to the traditional free music, activities, and ice cream, the event will include a potluck and children's garden.

Those from the Creekside Neighborhood will also have the opportunity to sign up for neighborhood newsletters and e-mails. Nichols hopes that Party in the Park will help keep residents connected, as well as form bonds throughout the community.

"In a neighborhood like ours, which has a mix of owner-occupied and rental properties, neighbors might not feel so connected to one another," Nichols said. "One evening in the park can turn into many afternoon play dates and pickup basketball, baseball, and soccer games in the park throughout the summer."

What: Party in the Part at Creekside Park with music from "Mr. Variety and His Music," Ron Hillis
When: 6:30 p.m. today
Where: Creekside Park
Admission: Free

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