Exploring the World through Metro Parks & Recreation’s Summer Camps

Community Outreach Supervisor
E-mail Walter

A few weeks ago, I overheard a conversation between my brother-in-law and son regarding the importance of reading.   One of the things I heard him tell my son was “that reading allows anyone, regardless of cultural, economic, and/or social barriers, the opportunity to explore the world through their imagination.  It allows anyone to explore places that they’ll never visit, meet people that they’ll never see in person, and consume knowledge and understanding about cultures and history which they’ll otherwise never know.”

The same could beblog1 said about the summer camps that took place at our 12 community centers this summer.    The theme this year was “A Fantastic Voyage”, and each center had the flexibility in guiding its campers through local and/or world educational voyage.

For instance, Beechmont Community Center’s voyage traveled to South America where campers learned about the language, culture, history, political structure and more of countries like Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and more.  At the conclusion of the camp, campers performed in “A Fantastic Voyage High School Musical,” a performance for friends which highlighted what they’d learned throughout their voyage.

On the other hand, Baxter Community Center’s Voyage was a little closer to home.   Their voyage traveled to islands of Hawaii, and provided campers intimate details about the culture, history and natural elements of the land.   Campers wrote essays about the different islands, learned about native dances as well as leaned about volcanos.  Campers also created maracas as part of their art classes.

Southwick Community Center’s Voyage took advantage of our local history and cultural amenities like for example a trip to the Kentucky Derby Museum.   This voyage, led by Ronnie Dreistadt, the Education Curator at the museum, took campers on a historical voyage back to Europe and West Africa focusing on the beginning of Thoroughbred Horse racing.   It focused on President’s Washington and Jackson’s role in horse racing as well as the contributions of African Americans to sport oblog2f horse racing.

These voyages, in addition to the other programs offered like fitness, arts, and environmental education, highlighted each of our summer campers’ experience.  It provided many of them, who unfortunately haven’t even traveled much further than their own neighborhoods, an opportunity to learn what exists outside of their immediate area; outside of our country.  It challenges their imagination, and encourages them to dream.

Some of the additional featured activities included: Belle of Louisville Cruise, Youth Health Initiative Program, Reds Rookie Success League, Bike Sense program, trips and so much more.

LMPF & the Dream Foundation team up with Phillis Wheatley Elementary

Phillis Wheatley Elementary Students

Students at Phillis Wheatley raised $300 for their “Change for a Change” campaign benefiting the West Louisville Playground Initiative.

The Louisville Metro Parks Foundation (LMPF) and the DREAM Foundation are teaming up with Phillis Wheatley Elementary School to renovate the California Park playground.  Wheatley has very little green space, and it utilizes the public park’s playground as the school play area.  The renovation of the playground is part of the West Louisville Playground Initiative which is a fundraising effort by LMPF.

Thanks to a partnership with the DREAM Foundation, the new playground will be designed as an “inclusive playground”, which allows children in wheelchairs an opportunity to play on the equipment.  Instead of the traditional mulch, the surfacing is made of rubber and the equipment is designed with larger openings for wheelchair access.  If funding permits, another amenity may include a new sprayground.

The Phillis Wheatley Elementary community participated directly in the effort to renovate California Park by asking folks to donate “change for a change”.  Students were given Ziploc bags to take home with a letter encouraging parents to ask family, friends and neighbors to donate their change to go toward the California Park renovations.  Through their efforts they were able to collect just over $300 just by asking for pennies, nickels and dimes. Phillis Wheatley Elementary Students

It goes without saying that playgrounds are important.  For some kids, the playground offers their only opportunity for exercise throughout the day.  In an article written by author Nikke Maidment, she clearly identifies the importance of playgrounds.  Maidment  said, “From the earliest age, it is essential for children to engage in child play and interact with others.  Psychologists have found it to be vital in child development as well as allowing them to interact and learn fundamental social skills.  Playgrounds provide a venue for children to explore their environment, test boundaries and develop an imagination.  It also provides them a chance to build self-esteem and confidence, which is key in order for them to reach their full potential later in life.”

How can you help?
Make a donation of any amount! Make checks payable to the “Louisville Metro Parks Foundation” and mail to:

Post Office Box 37280
Louisville, Kentucky 40233-7280

Wheelchair Basketball: The Game is the Same


Each spring, millions of Americans across the country are inundated with media coverage and water-cooler conversations about their predictions for the crowning of the year’s NCAA Basketball Champion. Basketball enthusiasts, and even those who are oblivious to the game leading up to March, are consumed with filling out tournament brackets, entering office pools, and making travel arrangements to see their favorite team(s) play.

Last week, right here in the city, I had the opportunity to watch, for the first time, competitive basketball played by men and women both young and seasoned. It was a very thrilling experience! Oh… I almost forgot to mention, they were all playing in wheelchairs. Yes… it was the 64th Annual National Wheelchair Basketball Association Championships drawing 85 teams and more than 1,000 athletes from all across the country. I was on assignment from Louisville Metro Parks’ Community Relations Division to take photos, and while I did, the mental pictures I captured left me wheel3totally amazed, as did my 12 year-old daughter who traveled with me out to HOOPS to watch the Junior Division games.

“I can’t believe these guys and girls can do all of that while sitting down in wheel chairs. It’s amazing!” said Spencer, my daughter.

I started the day out in the South Wing of the Kentucky Expo Center taking photos at the ceremonial celebrity wheelchair basketball game in which several media personalities and members of the mayor’s executive staff took to the court to play in wheelchairs alongside some Olympic and veteran wheelchair basketball athletes. Following those festivities, I moved over to watch some of the Championship and Division III games. Wow! It was just like watching basketball at any given park, school gym or recreation center. Players were blocking out on the boards, shooting three-point shots, dribbling the basketball down court, and blocking shots. While most of the rules were the same, some of them were a little different. For example, players get two pushes for every dribble down court, the players’ wheelchairs are also considered an extension of each their bodies, so fouls can be called for wheelchair contact.

What made the ‘game even more the same’ were the strategies and emotional displays of competitiveness during the time-outs, the smack-talking during and following the games, the expressions of exhilaration following good plays and victory as well as expressions of exasperation following bad calls, and defeat.

Later in the afternoon / early evening, I ventured out to HOOPS to watch some of the Junior Prep Division and Junior 10’ Division games. While there seemed to be less “smack-talking”, the games remained very competitive. Both Spencer and I gasped rather loudly when one of the players’ chair tumbled over awkwardly on a fast-break down court. The young man was totally okay, and we later could see that the tumble wheelchair1was less dramatic to those in the crowd than it was for Spencer and I. It was basketball!

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the level of competition, and the athletic ability of so many who have not allowed their disabilities to hinder their athletic possibilities. I was reminded of a quote by famed Major League Baseball coach Tommy Lasorda who said, “The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in a person’s determination.” Congrats to all of the determined basketball players who came to Louisville this year to compete in the National Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

by Walter R. Munday, Outreach Manager
Louisville Metro Parks

Celebrating 75 Years With the Iroquois Amphitheater


By Mike Slaton
Iroquois Amphitheater General Manager

We are excited to celebrate 75 years of magic at the Iroquois Amphitheater!

The popular Coors Light Iroquois Amphitheater Summer Concert Series returns this year, with even more excitement than before. The season kicks off with hometown favorites Houndmouth on April 26th.

We’re looking forward to great shows from Brandi Carlile, Gregg Allman, Local Natives, Michael Franti, and more!


Our summer musical is Gilbert & Sullivan’s beloved “The Pirates of Penzance,” running August 8-17. This production features some of Louisville’s finest performers and promises to be a fun-filled time for the whole family!

The Iroquois Amphitheater Presents series returns featuring, FREE performances all summer long. Highlights include The Monarchs, The Louisville Winds, U of L Dance Theater, Appalatin, and The Louisville Vocal Project. All performances are free, but donations are welcome to help support programming.

Speaking of support, did you know that starting this year you can Sponsor A Seat? For just $100, you can inscribe your name, or the name of a loved one, on a seat of your choosing, It’s a great way to show your support of quality programming at your Iroquois Amphitheater!

We’re also excited that Garrison Keillor is bringing his Prairie Home Companion’s Radio Romance Tour to the amphitheater on July 20. Get your tickets early, this promises to be a night to remember, and is sure to sell out!

And of course, we’ll keep showing great films this summer, with Movies Under the Stars on the second weekend of May through September, and  in June and July.

We hope to see you a lot this summer! Walk, drive, bike, or take a bus. We’ve expanded our menu options and our picnic area, so grab a hot dog, popcorn, beer or soda when you get here, and sit back and enjoy our 75th year of making magic under the stars!

PS. You’re invited to the Iroquois Amphitheater 75th Anniversary Celebration on September 22. Stay tuned for details!

New Mountain Biking Trails at Iroquois Park?

Metro Parks staff met with several members of KyMBA on Decemeber 5th to discuss the possibility of adding mountain bike trails to Iroquois Park.  Director, Mike Heitz followed up with the group with a letter explaining why an extensive trail system at Iroquois Park would not be addressed at this time.

The main issues involved include:

•    PUBLIC REVIEW. Any substantial change in uses, such as adding mountain bikes to the existing trails should go through a public planning and review process that includes all user groups including hikers, equestrians, golfers, disc golfers, and general public who use the park but are not part of an organized group.

•    SAFETY would need to be addressed – site distances, grades, compatibility of different user groups on those trails.

•    SUSTAINABILITY OF THE TRAILS – both horses and bikes are hard on trails. Parts of the existing bridle path did undergo a big “hardening” as part of the Olmsted Plan implementation in the early 2000s, but mountain bikers want hills not flat land so it is highly unlikely they would stay on the lower, more sustainably designed trail.  Soil at Iroquois Park is primarily considered loess. This type of soil has a very small particle size and is susceptible to erosion by water and wind which is only compounded by the steepness of the terrain. Currently, the Olmsted Master Plan calls for hiking-only trails on the hillsides.

As stated before, these reasons alone do not remove the opportunity from Iroquois, but simply requires time to develop in the best manner possible for the health of the park.  In the meantime, this proposal will be “shelved” in order for us to focus on another area of the park that has garnered overwhelming support from the community: the Northern Overlook.  Metro Parks and the Olmsted Parks Conservancy are committed to the improvement to this area of Iroquois Park and have made it the number one capital request in the upcoming budget. If funding is approved, a site design would be necessary before improvements can be made. This will certainly impact any trail system located on or around the hillside. Therefore, we believe that once the planning and design has been completed for the Northern Overlook we can move forward on other amenities.

Metro Parks very much supports the idea of mountain bike trail expansion in the community and, at our meeting with KyMBA, we also discussed the exciting potential of the Moreman Hill area at Jefferson Memorial Forest as a possible location for building a world-class trail system. KyMBA representatives, as well as national consultants whom they brought in to attend the meeting, share Parks enthusiasm for such a project at the Forest, and Parks staff have been investigating sources of funding that could matched with KyMBA resources to bring this idea to fruition.

Iroquois Park Vandalism FAQs

Iroquois_restroomThanks to our awesome Facebook fans, our post regarding the criminal acts at Iroquois Park has gotten a lot of attention and has been featured on the local news stations (WDRB, WLKY, WAVE and WHAS).  Hopefully this attention will help lead to the identification of the person/people who committed this careless crime.   This story has generated a lot of questions and concerns by citizens and we are going to try and answer some of those here.

$10,000 for a toilet and water fountain?! That seems kind of high…

The $10,000 was the initial estimate for the repair, materials and labor (breakdown of costs below). The largest portion of the cost, about $7500, is the estimated purchase price of the water fountain.  It may seem surprising that a water fountain can cost so much, but because Iroquois is an Olmsted Park, the park fixtures installed are required to meet a level of design standards set by the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and this type of fountain may carry a slightly higher price than styles found in other parks. In addition, Metro Parks is a public agency, therefore it must stay in compliance with several ordinances regarding the contracting of labor, purchasing materials as well as those materials used must meet specific standards and be purchased from approved vendors.

Cost estimates:

Toilet replacement:

$200 (without install). At this time it doesn’t appear that the plumbing in the restroom will need repairs, just the fixture replacement. We won’t know for sure until we remove and replace the fixture and see if there was any damage to pipes within the wall.

Graffiti abatement for the restroom and playground:

Approximately $300 for paint and painting supplies for the restroom. Labor estimate – 4 employees * 16 hours * $13.00/hr = $832.00.

Water fountain purchase and installation:

(Handicap accessible and frost proof):  Between $7500.00 and $8000.00

The necessary plumbing repairs for the drinking fountain should be included in the cost for purchase and installation above unless there are more problems below grade we won’t be able to see until we remove the concrete and inspect the valve.

Concrete removal and replacement:  

Unknown at this time, but Parks expects this to be covered in the water fountain installation above.

Repair the cut shade structure at the playground:

Approximately $700.00


Total Estimate = $9,232


Why doesn’t Metro Parks install security cameras?

An exterior surveillance camera system is expensive and has limitations.  However,  Metro Parks is in discussion with LMPD to  add a camera at certain locations.


Has Metro Parks considered using Stainless Steel toilets in the restrooms?

Stainless steel toilets cost about $700-$800 each. A ceramic toilet is around $150. Our maintenance manager has found it to be more cost effective to simply replace 4-5 ceramic toilets for the cost of one stainless. Unfortunately, even a stainless toilet would need replacing when a 250 pound fountain is thrown on top of it.


What can I do to help?

We are encouraging the entire community to be our eyes and ears in all the parks.  Contacting LMPD anytime suspicious behavior is seen or vandals are caught in the act is the best way to combat vandalism.

Spring Athletic Leagues Registration Begins March 29

Basketball, softball, kickball and flag football for ages 18 and older

SportsMetro Parks will begin accepting team registrations for spring athletic leagues – basketball, softball, kickball and flag football — on March 29. Games begin the week of May 6. Participants must be 18 or older. Registration deadline is April 30, or until leagues are filled.

Metro Parks athletic leagues offer year-round opportunities for residents to improve their fitness, display their competitive spirit and socialize with others. Spring league sports include:

Basketball: men’s 18 & over league. Games are played Tuesday evenings at Cyril Allegier Community Center. The fee is $400 per team.

Softball: men’s, women’s and co-ed leagues. Games are played Monday through Friday evenings at Camp Taylor, Highview and Seneca Parks. The fee is $400 per team.

Kickball: co-ed leagues. Games are played Monday through Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons at Camp Taylor and Seneca parks. The fee per team is $375.

Flag football: men’s and co-ed leagues are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Games are played at Thurman Hutchins Park. The fee per team is $400.

To register for an Athletic League, participants can register online at http://www.metro-parks.org/recreation/athletics/Registration.htm. Payment can be made by credit card over the phone. You may pay by cash or check at the Athletics Office located at the Louisville Tennis Center (in Joe Creason Park) 3783 Illinois Ave, 40213. Payment must be made in full at the time of registration in order to reserve team’s place for the season. Registrations after the deadline will be subject to a $35 late registration processing fee.

For More Information:
More information concerning league offerings, registration forms, rules and team roster sheets can be found on the Metro Parks website at http://www.louisvilleky.gov/metroparks/recreation/athletics. Leagues are first-come, first-serve. No mail-in or over-the-phone registrations are accepted. Any questions please contact the Athletics office at 502-456-8173 or by email at athletics@louisvilleky.gov