Santa is Coming to MPCC All Month Long! – By Kaitlyn Collier

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Kaitlyn Collier, Special Events Coordinator Assistant at the Manassas Park Community Center with a young girl by a gingerbread houseChristmas has always been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. I love the spirit and energy that fills the air almost magically throughout the month of December. There’s just something about the holiday season that puts you in a fantastic mood. The holidays are filled with so many activities for you and your family, and there is literally something to do every weekend!

To kick start the Christmas season, we have a Dough Ornament workshop on December 1st from 7:00pm-8:30pm. Children of all ages are invited to paint their own ornaments to bring home. Of course, parents are also invited to join in on the fun as well. We’ll have some Christmas tunes playing to really get you into the spirit!

On Thursday, December 8th, join us for our Gingerbread House Workshop from 7:00pm-8:30pm. Everything you need for your Gingerbread House will be provided, you simply supply the creativity.

To keep your Christmas spirit going, be sure to attend our Annual Light Parade on Saturday, December 10th beginning at 5:45pm! This parade is so unique; you won’t see anything else like it–all the floats are covered in Christmas lights and Christmas inflatables! This parade really lights up the City and is definitely an event to add to your calendar!

Immediately following the Light Parade will be our First Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at the Community Center. Come for the parade, stay for the fun as there will be light refreshments, hot cocoa, children’s activities, and Santa will be there to light the tree and for free pictures afterwards.

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If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to eat breakfast with Santa, rather than cookies, we have the perfect event! On December 17th at 9:00am, Santa will be coming to MPCC to have breakfast with everyone! Not only will you get to eat breakfast with Santa and make sure you made it onto the nice list, but you’ll also be able to get a picture with him! We will also have games and crafts for the kids to work off that pancake energy!

P.S. if you want to wear your best Christmas gear, don’t be afraid – we’ll be decked out in ours too!

Yes, this truly is a great time of the year for us at the Community Center. I really hope you will join us for all of these memorable events during the month of December! If you love Christmas and Santa like I do, you will truly delight in all the activities here at the MPCC!

Kaitlyn Collier is the Special Events Assistant for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872, or via email at K.Collier@ManassasParkVA.gov.

Posted in Family, Food, Holiday, Preschool, School Aged, Special Events, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grateful for our Teens – By Tony Thomas

The new Teen Center mural at the Community Center was drawn by Mr. Todd and painted with help from the teens

The new Teen Center mural at the Community Center was drawn by Mr. Todd and painted with help from the teens

Tony Thomas, City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation Recreation Services SupervisorAs Thanksgiving approaches, now is a good a time as any to reflect on what we have to be thankful for. I think all too often, it is human nature to reflect on what we do not have, rather than we do have. It’s easy to get caught up in the mindset of thinking that you may not have as much as what you really do. There are plenty of reasons to be thankful, and not just in this season, but year-round. I’ve learned to be thankful from an unlikely source – our teens at the Manassas Park Community Center. I work/mentor teens from all sorts of diverse backgrounds that range various economic scales. When most people think about teenagers, especially middle-school teens, they think that teens may be rude, greedy, arrogant, and self-centered. In my work, I have found that to be completely opposite.

I’ll be honest, not every day is an easy day. There are teens that have problems, just as there are adults that have problems. Working with teens has further proven to me that it’s not always what you don’t have, it’s what you can provide for someone else. Providing does not mean only money. It can mean lending an ear, giving advice, playing a board game, or helping with homework. The teens that come to the Community Center, truly want to be here. They have several other options to pique their curiosity after school, however, they choose to come here. Any time I hire a Recreation Leader for the Teen Center, I tell them one important piece of advice: the teens are not just coming here to play basketball, or swim, or watch movies. They are coming for you. They are coming to form that relationship and bond with a positive adult role model.

It’s tough being a teen in today’s tech-savvy world. There are so many influences available thanks to the convenience of smart phones. If teens are passing up these influences to come to the Community Center, then I think that is something that we should all be thankful for. As a community, we should uplift our young people and work with them. They are truly the future of tomorrow, and a lot of them have bright and creative ideas.

I am thankful that I work in a community that provides access to a state-of-the-art Community Center for teens at an affordable price. Teens can pay a daily drop-in rate of just $2.00 to receive all the amenities we offer. We also have the Teen Passport, which is a teen specific membership for just $20/month. For teens that wish to participate, they can have their monthly amount reduced by earning points for good grades, volunteering, or performing community service. 20 points equals $20, which means they can get their next month’s membership completely free. Our goal is to teach the teens to pay it forward to their community.

I am thankful that the City of Manassas Park sees value in investing in the youth of the community. After speaking to many of the teens, I know that the gratitude is not one-sided. I have shared many conversations in which they have told me how thankful and appreciative they are, that they have a safe-haven to go to after school. Many teens’ parents work long hours and cannot be home as much as they would like, which unfortunately leaves a lot of downtime for our teens. The Community Center and the Teen Center helps fill that void.

My hope is that after you read this blog, that you realize that there is much to be thankful for and there are numerous ways to give back. I am always looking for volunteers to help with teen programs and events. If this is something that you are interested in, I encourage you to email me. We would love to show you around, and introduce you to our wonderful staff, and our teen leaders.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tony Thomas is the Recreation Services Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at T.Thomas@manassasparkva.gov.

Posted in Memberships, Teens, Volunteering | Leave a comment

Let’s talk Turkey! – By DC Webb

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Instructor Jasmine Kelley’s students are ready to help for Thanksgiving!

Like everyone else here at the Community Center, I am excited about Thanksgiving. I remember when I was a kid (which sadly for me is a long time ago), the most important day of the year was Thanksgiving. I have always loved Thanksgiving day because of the food—especially the turkey.

Celebrating Thanksgiving by eating turkey is how 91% of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. The latest statistics say that about 280 million turkeys are sold annually for Thanksgiving which is about 7 billion pounds of turkey and about 3 billion dollars’ worth of sales.

For basically my whole life, I have eaten as much Thanksgiving turkey as I could, but even I couldn’t finish the whole bird at one sitting. I remember hearing my mother asking what she should do with the leftovers, and now, my wife asks the same question. As we all know, the big problem with leftovers is that leftovers are pretty good the next day, but what about the leftovers we keep longer than one or two days?

So, as the years go by, I have come up with some ideas for turkey leftovers.

How does turkey noodle soup sound? What about turkey pot pie, or turkey and Swiss panini, or how about turkey focaccia! Here’s another idea, how about turkey pizza, turkey quesadillas, turkey enchiladas, turkey tacos, or turkey chili?

Vegetables are also very important; they are a must on any diet. I personally suggest carrot cake and zucchini bread for those leftover veggies!

All of this talk about turkey is making me hungry. I can’t wait to celebrate Thanksgiving this year by enjoying turkey and all the trimmings! Let me be the first person to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

DC Webb is the Costello Park Manager for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at D.Webb@manassasparkva.gov

Posted in Adults, Family, Food, Holiday | Leave a comment

Trunk or Treat Can Replace Trick or Treat anytime! – By Maria Bosack

DSC_0150.jpgMaria Bosack, writing/content specialist for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation

Ask any child why they love Halloween, and they will almost always say, “Two words: free candy”. If you were at the Community Center on October 31st from 5:30pm-7:30pm for Trunk or Treat, you saw many happy children running around, because they had indeed received lots of free candy. You may also have noticed many happy adults running around too.

Why were those adults so happy? Maybe it was the safe and easy alternative to trick or treating. Maybe it was the convenient venue with lots activities like kids crafts and a moon bounce.

Manassas resident Rose Baker brought all four of her kids. “We came here last year because the kids loved it. That’s why we came early this year,” she said laughing, “Besides the moon bounce, my kids really liked getting their photos taken with the SpongeBob, Minion and Pikachu mascots.”

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Kelly and Peter Luu live in Manassas Park and brought their two children, ages 3 and 1. “I fix the police fleet cars, so I knew the police cars would be here,” said Peter Luu. Kelly added that they had also been at last year’s Trunk or Treat event, and since the kids were a little bigger this year, they would be spending lots of time on the moon bounce.

Karen Bolinksi of Skate and Fun Zone brought many of the things kids truly like including the moon bounce, popcorn machine, candy, and a prize wheel for kids to spin and win prizes including tiaras and masks. “It’s funny, many of these kids are dressed as what impresses them like super heroes or fairy princesses. What always impresses me is the manners that I continually hear. You can never hear the words ‘thank you’ enough,” she said.

Greg Gresham who works for CERT – Community Emergency Response Team – was at a table giving candy to the kids and information to their parents. “We use any and all opportunities to get emergency preparedness information to the community, but doing this on a day like today when I get to see the joy in the kids’ faces, and their amazing costumes is really something.”

Manassas Park Police Officers had the cruisers out for the youngsters to check out. “Wow, that car has a huge computer like my dad’s!” one child exclaimed.

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Kay Jenkins and Erika Revis had decorated their car with colorful and scary Halloween themes. “I love handing out Halloween candy to the kids,” said Kay. “Yeah, I like checking out their costumes too,” Erika added. They both agreed that there were a lot of creative homemade costumes on not only the kids, but their parents too!

Next to them was Jasmine Campbell and Aurora Monroy who both work with kids all day long at the City of Manassas Park, Department of Social Services. “We love being here with all the happy kids,” said Jasmine. “This fun stuff is what kids remember, and we are so happy to be part of it,” added Aurora.

Manassas Park resident Lucy Pullen likes to decorate her car with a different theme every Halloween and hand out candy to the children. “The whole family is involved. We always try to have fun with the theme, and this year we went with a spooky theme,” she said.

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who dedicated their time and efforts to help put together an amazing Trunk or Treat! I already can’t wait for next year!

Maria Bosack is the Writer/Content Specialist for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at m.bosack@manassasparkva.gov.

Posted in Family, Holiday, Preschool, Programs, School Aged, Special Events, Volunteering | Leave a comment

Holiday Programs at Parks and Recreation – By Jacquelyn Tyre-Perry

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Manassas Park Parks and Recreations School Age Recreation Specialist Jacquelyn-Tyre PerryWhen most people think cold weather and the holidays, they think hot chocolate, their rising heating bill, and staying indoors. But here at Parks and Recreation, it’s anything but downtime. *sings* “It’s the most wonderful time….” It’s the most busy time of the year.

The programs that run during the holiday season are almost endless.  Families love to get the season kicked off right at our Annual Light Parade. Every year my daughter and I run up our street to get the best spot on the sidewalk to watch all the cars and floats lit up to the high heavens. There’s not a year that goes by that I’m not amazed by the immense work and creativity that goes into some of those displays! Between all the candy being handed out by floats and listening to the band, it makes for an awesome holiday evening. The parade is scheduled to start at 5:45pm on 12/10. If you’d like to participate as a float, please contact Kaitlyn Collier.

New this year is our Christmas Tree Lighting. We’re still in the planning stages but we have big ideas including refreshments, games, crafts, caroling, pictures with Santa, and more! Come over to the Community Center right after the parade to really get into the holiday spirit. You can help us make the tree lighting a huge hit – we are looking for donations of new Christmas lights and new or gently used outdoor Christmas decorations. We’re working on a membership or program special to thank you for your generosity so be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page for the announcement!

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Another wildly popular event is our annual Breakfast with Santa, scheduled for 12/17 from 9am-11am for only $5 per person. The families love coming out to enjoy pancakes and a sit down with Santa. The Parks and Recreation staff love being a part of seeing the joy smeared across the kids’ faces and families spending quality time together. Immediately after is Santa Paws from 11:30am-12:30pm for only $5 per dog where your pup can have their picture taken with Santa!

And let’s not forget, there are the holiday classes and programs sprinkled throughout the month. We offer a class to teach school age kids how to gift wrap, with the hope that they’ll be able to pitch in when it’s time to get presents wrapped. We also have our “Holiday Hustle and Bustle,” where kids can come and hang out with staff for a few hours while parents get last minute shopping or wrapping done. We enjoy a holiday movie, hot chocolate, and craft time until parents come back (and they’re usually jealous of all the fun we had).

So this holiday season, stop by and see all that we have going on. It isn’t our busiest time of the year for nothing! Be sure to mark your calendar for our Winter MOSAIC release date in mid-November and get registered for our classes and events. We can’t wait to have you all here.

Jacquelyn Tyre-Perry is the Recreation Specialist for School Age Programs for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872, or via email at J.Tyre-Perry@manassasparkva.gov.

Posted in Family, Holiday, Programs, School Aged, Special Events | Leave a comment

I Joined the Pickleball Sensation at the MPCC – By Maria Bosack

dsc_0220Maria Bosack, writing/content specialist for the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation

“Try it, you’ll like it!” How many times have you heard that? And, how many times have you thought to yourself that you sure would like to try it, but you just have no energy, or the time, or the patience for something new?

When I heard about the Pickleball sensation at the Manassas Park Community Center, I was intrigued because I like sports, and I really like racquet sports! But did I really want to try something new? Did I want to try and squeeze playing Pickleball into my already crazy schedule? Would I have the patience?

“Try it, you’ll like it!” I heard from the Pickleball group.

I learned that Pickleball is the combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong and smiled fondly as I have many great memories playing all of those sports.

“Try it, you’ll like it!” I heard over and over from several ladies who play every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday morning from 8 am – 10 am at the Community Center. They explained that Pickleball isn’t just about the game. They pointed out that as you play Pickleball with their group week after week, you build bonds and make new friends because the group is made up of a diverse group of people who just love the game of Pickleball. They love it so much that they have a back-up plan if we can’t play at the Community Center.

“Try it, you’ll like it!” they kept saying. I guess they could see I was intrigued. I heard more about the Pickleball group at the community center.

The ladies told me their group plays to have fun and said they really weren’t very competitive. They admitted the game of Pickleball can progress very quickly, but initially, you just want to learn the basics; the strategies come later.

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They encourage all new players to try the beginner’s paddles provided by the Community Center. In fact, they even offer their personal racquets so that new players (like me) can see which racquet they prefer. Then they suggested the best way to play Pickleball is to get out there and learn as you go.

“Try it, you’ll like it!” they encouraged me.

So, you know what, I tried it… and, I L-O-V-E it!

I love the game! I love the Pickleball group! I love playing at the community center on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Friday mornings between 8 am – 10 am!

I love it because the group has been so kind to me. They offered me their own personal racquets to use as I learn! I love it because the Pickleball group never gets mad when mistakes are made! (And, let me tell you, I make tons of mistakes!) I love the Pickleball group because they truly like each other and it is so obvious! Nobody says an unkind word about anyone else. Everyone has a good time and there is a lot of laughter!

So why not try playing Pickleball, you will like it!

Maria Bosack is the Writer/Content Specialist for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872, or via email at M.Bosack@manassasparkva.gov

Posted in Adults, Athletics, Programs, Seniors | Leave a comment

Introducing Our Corporate and Non-Profit Rental Package – By Jason Shriner

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Manassas Park Parks And Recreation Marketing Manager Jason ShrinerWhen I came on board as the new Marketing Manager last year, one of my many many goals was to simplify the rental process here at the Manassas Park Community Center. Since I worked at the front desk for about a year and a half prior to becoming the Marketing Manager, I was pretty familiar with the rental process. I knew what the most commonly booked spaces were, which questions customers always asked, and what concerns they always brought up.

Over the past year, you may have noticed the rental rates sheet has gotten simpler and easier to read. If you haven’t seen our old rate sheet, let me know and I’ll show you how confusing it used to be! I’m sure you’ll also have noticed our newer wedding rental packages located at the center of the front desk. Those packages were created based on the most commonly booked amenities. Since these changes have been made, rentals have increased – especially wedding receptions and quinceañeras!

To be honest, it can be scary when you create a new piece of marketing material. You can believe in it all you want, but there’s always a part of you that wonders just how well it will do. So seeing the packages’ success has been a huge relief for me, but also a great benefit for the Community Center and the Department of Parks and Recreation. At the same time though, weddings and quinceañeras were low hanging fruit since they were our most common rentals.

I’m challenging myself to see if I can see a similar level of success with rentals from businesses and non-profits in the area. These rentals are far less common at the Community Center, but would significantly help us out since they would typically be held Monday-Thursday – a time when our rental spaces are frequently available.

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So why businesses and non-profits? First and foremost, we offer corporate memberships where teams can come together and get individual memberships for a significantly reduced rate. By offering special rental packages to organizations, my hope is that they’ll fall in love with our beautiful facility so much they’ll use us as their primary source of fitness and recreation.

Second, our area has tons of large and small, corporate and independent businesses. These businesses want to host events like holiday parties, award ceremonies, and team building retreats and I know our Community Center is the right fit for so many of their visions. Along the same vein, we have an enormous and bustling non-profit community in Northern Virginia. Fundraising galas and board meetings are a necessity and our location conveniently located off of route 28 would make them easy to host. You don’t have to be the Red Cross to take advantage of our non-profit packages! We have options perfect for homeowner’s associations, fraternities/sororities, and local government agencies. (By the way, your HOA can definitely take advantage of our corporate membership! Just something to consider if yours doesn’t have a pool, basketball courts, or fitness rooms!)

Lastly, I want to continue building our partnerships throughout the business and non-profit community to help grow the programs and services the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation can offer. Many organizations want to help, but aren’t sure what’s the best way to support a local Parks and Recreation Department. Truly, the best way to provide support is to get involved! Use our pool and wellness areas, take one of our recreational classes, or rent our facility! Every dollar you spend with us goes back into improving the Community Center and allowing us to provide even more services. Plus, once you get involved, it’s hard to stop! You’ll want to teach a class yourself or even coach one of our youth basketball teams.

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In conjunction with the new packages, I’m extremely excited to announce our new non-profit rental scholarships. We get so many requests for rental space throughout the year from non-profits that are struggling to find the funds to even provide the services they offer. Providing free or reduced cost rental space is difficult – it’s difficult to be consistent and it’s nearly impossible to predict how often you’ll be asked throughout the year. To help make it fair for everybody and easier for us to process, we’re setting a dollar limit that we’ll cap the total full or partial scholarships awarded and all the applications for reduced cost space will be due in January.

We’re not quite ready to launch the scholarship application just yet – it should be available by mid-November (PS – that’s when the new winter MOSAIC is coming out!) so check back with me then.

The package is still a bit in the soft launch phase as we are still adding more information – such as building layouts and the non-profit scholarship flyer –but the options available are ready to be booked immediately. Click here to download a copy of the package and take a look! I can’t wait to see how our rental spaces and recreation facilities help your organization fulfill its mission and enhance the lives of your team.

Jason Shriner is the Marketing Manager for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at J.Shriner@manassasparkva.gov.

Posted in Marketing, Rentals | Leave a comment