Good Life

Centre Region Parks and Recreation celebrates golden anniversary

Families participate in a scavenger hunt at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center in April. Centre Region Parks and Recreation, which operates Millbrook Marsh and other sites, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Saturday.
Families participate in a scavenger hunt at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center in April. Centre Region Parks and Recreation, which operates Millbrook Marsh and other sites, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Saturday. Centre Daily Times, file

It was only 10 a.m. on Monday morning and the humidity inside the Centre Region Parks and Recreation building had already reached an uncomfortable pitch.

Without an intimate knowledge of the structure’s air conditioning system, it was difficult to say exactly what had gone wrong. Shifting uncomfortably in one’s seat seems to be the layman’s lot in life on hot August day.

Ronald Woodhead, CRPR’s director, probably came closest to assessing the situation when he said that after 10 years of use, things in a building “start to go that way.”

And for the most part, of course, he’s right — with a few notable exceptions.

On Saturday, CRPR will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a festival in Tom Tudek Memorial Park.

The celebration will be free and open to the public — they’re only charging for the food — and activities will be provided courtesy of groups like Centre Region Community Tennis Association and the Penn State Master Gardeners.

Woodhead, program manager Nikki Tourscher and the rest of the CRPR gang are hoping that the event lives up to the five decades of buildup that have come before — 54 parks and 900 acres worth of nostalgia.

“It’s a lot of smiles and memories that you make for people,” Woodhead said.

If the director seems overly reflective, consider it one of the early side effects of retirement. At the end of August, Woodhead will step down after 19 and a half years with CRPR.

A few weeks ago, he typed up his last board meeting agenda and filed his last monthly report — and yet, remarkably, he’s still not bored.

That may have something do with the eclectic menu of services that CRPR has offered up over the years, from athletics to nature to the senior center.

“It’s like this rainbow of recreation that’s here, and you have to appreciate the variety,” Woodhead said.

Tourscher said the CRPR think-tank started discussing plans for 50 Fest last year.

The goal was to involve as many members of CRPR’s 21-person regular staff as possible.

“It’s a big deal. We’re happy to be here 50 years. We’re proud of what we do,” Tourscher said.

Sentiment aside, it seems like there will be plenty of work to go around. Somebody has to run all of the games, hand out the prizes and keep an eye on the inflatable obstacle course.

The day will be capped off with a screening of the perennial favorite, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” at 8:45 p.m.

Putting aside the overabundance of “wow factor” for a moment, both Woodhead and Tourscher are quick to emphasize that this is a celebration not only of CRPR, but of all of the people in the surrounding communities who have helped make the past 50 years possible.

“Centre Region Parks and Recreation is not just about what we can offer,” Woodhead said. “It’s about working together with the community to make things happen.”

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

IF YOU GO

What: The CRPR 50 Fest

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tom Tudek Memorial Park, 400 Herman Drive, State College

Info: www.crpr.org

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