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


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!

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_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.

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

Alejandro Rivera joins Red Zone Racing Team

In less than two months, cyclocross competitors from around the world will pedal into Louisville, KY, for the 2013 UCI Cyclocross World Championships.  This is the first time the 50-year-old event has ever been staged outside of Europe. And…Louisville is ready!

Alejandro Rivera pulls ahead of other cyclists in a recent race.

Alejandro Rivera pulls ahead of other cyclists in a recent race.

So… what is “cyclocross”?    Cyclocross developed in the early 1900s, primarily in Europe, as a way for road racers to squeeze in off-season training, and events still traditionally take place in the fall and winter. Riders do laps, usually almost two miles long (3 kilometers), often through mud, sand, grass and even creeks. They dismount and carry bikes over manmade or natural barriers. Races typically last between 30 to 60 minutes.

According to USA Cycling, cyclocross is officially the nation’s fastest-growing two-wheeled discipline.  Over the last five years, participation jumped from 32,000 to 72,000, and many of the new riders are women and juniors.

And that’s where this story begins.  More than five years ago in 2007, several local bike enthusiasts got together to figure out a way to get kids on bikes and into bike racing.  A year later, more than 30 and sometimes almost 50 kids began converging on River Road Country Club on Friday evenings to learn the sport of cyclocross from local racers.    As a result, Red Zone Cycling was born.  Its results already include podium finishes at several Cyclocross National Championships by both male and female Red Zone cyclists.

Red Zone works one kid at a time.  Its results already include podium placings at the 2007 Cyclocross National Championships.  Just as important, perhaps more important, Red Zone’s results include lots of kids who have taken up cycling and gone from sedentary to active, and these kids are spreading the word to their friends.  As a result of their success, Red Zone has helped put Louisville on the national cyclocross map.  People have taken notice of both the team’s race results and its participation level.

John Haley is the head coach for the Red Zone Cycling team.  He has been involved in cycling for more than three decades. One of the reasons for his involvement in the program was the opportunity to introduce cycling to kids who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to learn the sport.

Last year, Red Zone Cycling partnered with Bike Louisville, Jefferson County Public Schools, Metro Parks, and the Louisville Bicycle Club to create a program called Bike Sense, which is aimed at teaching riding skills, bike maintenance and basic repair, and bike fitness and fun to kids in two elementary schools – initially at Rangeland and Wellington Elementary Schools.  John Rolf Eisinger, an Engineering Technician
for Louisville Metro Public Works with a focus on Bicycle Infrastructure, heads up the Bike Louisville Program.

Haley met up with Eisinger earlier this year to discuss how Bike Louisville might be involved in a program they created called Friday Night Middlecross.   Haley, who has known Eisinger for many years, has always wanted to help kids.  What evolved was likely more than what Haley had envisioned. Eisinger was able to bridge a gap by connecting Louisville Metro Parks and kids from several of their community centers with Red Zone Cycling’s Friday Middlecross program.  Red Zone kids got the opportunity help demonstrate/teach cyclocross.

“This learning experience not only benefited the kids from the community centers, but also our Red Zone Racing kids by giving them the opportunity to give back to our community.  In fact, “giving back” is the core value of our organization,” said Haley.

One of the participants of Red Zone Cycling’s Friday Middlecross program was 15-year-old Iroquois High School sophomore, Alejandro Rivera.  Rivera has been participating in programs at the Beechmont Community Center for nearly seven years.  In 2003, at the age of six, Rivera, and his mother Olga Rodriquez and his sister Marian, moved to Louisville from Camaguey, Cuba. Soon after arriving, Rivera started hanging out at the Beechmont Community Center, and participating in the programs.


Alejandro Rivera is pictured above leaning against his bike with Charles “Chaz” Bullard at the Beechmont Community Center.

Charles Bullard, better known as “Chaz”, is a Recreation Assistant at the community center.  He fondly remembers meeting Rivera not long after he regularly began coming to the center.

“Alejandro is a great kid!  He stops by the center almost every day,” Bullard said.

During the summer, Bullard began recruiting kids to participate in the Middlecross program.  Rivera, who began riding BMX bikes at the Louisville Extreme Park, was one of the kids asked to participate.

“Chaz asked me to go, but I really wasn’t that interested.  I was more focused on baseball.”  Rivera said.

Bullard continued to encourage Rivera to participate.

“Chaz was like, man, just try it one time.  I believe you’ll really like it,” Rivera said.

He went on to say that Chaz was like a big-brother to him, and that he’d always listened to his advice in the past.

“This is the guy who first encouraged me to try baseball, which I did, and now I love it, and I’m pretty good at it.  Maybe I should at least give it a try,” Rivera said.

Haley remembers the first time he really noticed Rivera.  Haley and Mike Hewitt, owner, 2WheelSports, an Events Management company which also promotes cycling events in Louisville, Kentucky, and throughout the area were watching some of their junior level cyclocross riders leading the new participants in some cycling drills.  Haley recalled, “Both of us first looked at Rivera, and then we looked at each other and said,   WOW!  We have to get this kid in the program!”

Rivera was only a bikes-length behind one of Red Zone’s national level cyclocross riders during the drill.

A week or so later, Haley offered Rivera a spot on the team.

On Sunday October 14th, Rivera travel to Cincinnati with the Red Zone Racing team to compete in a cyclocross event.  With only a few weeks of practicing, Rivera finished 50th out of 75 in a race that also included adults.

“This is amazing,” said Marty Storch, Assistant Director, Louisville Metro Parks.  “One of our community center kids is one day just riding his bike around the neighborhood, and literally a few weeks later he’s competing in a national cyclocross competition.  This is truly exciting!”

Haley and the Red Zone Cycling team are equally excited.  Following Rivera’s introduction to the team, one of the Red Zone Cycling team parents stopped by Eva Bandman and offered to let Rivera use one of their very expensive, specially-equipped cyclocross bikes.

“This is definitely an example of the sort of large-hearted giving I’d hoped for,” said Haley.

For Rivera, cycling is quickly moving up the chart.  While his first love is still baseball, cycling is making a mad dash near the top of the list.    Rivera competed in the 2012 USGP Derby City Cup this past November.  Expect to see Rivera and other members of the Red Zone Cycling team to continue to compete in the future.

Join us at the 2013 UCI Cyclocross Championships at Eva Bandman Park in February –  It’s going to be fun!

Buy Local!

Louisville Metro Parks offers hundreds of gift-giving options for the holidays, making it easy to find just the right gift for that ‘hard-to-buy-for’ person. With a selection that includes items for golfers, nature enthusiasts, history buffs, art and music lovers, there really is something for everyone on the list!

The gift shop at Historic Locust Grove carries a wide variety of locally-made products, such as tea, bourbon-based food items, wood-ware, jewelry and pottery. The shop also carries historic reproduction pieces drawn from life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including pewter and other household goods.

Parks’ other historic property, Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, offers unique stocking stuffers including locally-produced honey, books on local history, historical reproductions of children’s items—small toys, games, bonnets and hats—and hand-rolled beeswax candles in seasonal colors.

Give the gift of art and music with a gift certificate from the Metro Arts Center. Certificates can be purchased in any amount and used for a wide variety of lessons for adults and children, including painting, pottery, screenprinting and silversmithing, as well as guitar and flute.

Golf Discount Book Poster_SmallFor lovers of the great outdoors, the Welcome Center at Jefferson Memorial Forest carries wildlife guides, nature-themed jewelry, sweatshirts and caps. Gift cards are available for purchase, too, and can be used for any of the gift shop items, as well as camping fees, shelter rentals and children’s summer camp fees. Purchase $5 or more and receive a free paw print gift bag.

A gift card from the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center can be applied toward memberships, swimming lessons and more. On a cold winter’s day or evening, there’s nothing better than staying active and warm inside the aquatic center, for lap swim, water exercise, and family pool time, or working up a sweat in the weight room that features Cybex, free weight and cardio equipment.

Swing by any Metro Parks public golf course to pick up the 2013 Metro Parks Golf Discount Book. This $25 gift provides hundreds of dollars of savings throughout the year and is on sale at all nine public golf courses. In addition, the clubhouse pro shops at each course feature golfing accessories and apparel.

For more information:

Historic Locust Grove

Location: Locust Grove Museum Store, located in the Visitor Center

561 Blankenbaker Lane, 502-897-9845

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday–Saturday; 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday

Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day

Payment: Cash, check (with valid ID), Visa, Mastercard, and Discover

Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing

Location: Riverside’s Museum Store, located in the Visitor Center

7410 Moorman Road, 502-935-6809

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday

Payment: Cash, check (with valid ID), Visa, Mastercard and American Express

Metro Arts Center

Location: 8360 Dixie Highway, 502-937-2055

Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday; Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday–Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday–Saturday; closed Sunday

Payment: Cash, check (with valid ID), or money order only – (credit cards are not accepted)

Jefferson Memorial Forest

Location: Welcome Center, 11311 Mitchell Hill Road, 502-368-5404

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday–Saturday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Payment: Cash, check (with valid ID), Visa and Mastercard

Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center

Location: 201 Reservoir Avenue, 502-897-9949

Hours: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday–Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday

Payment: Cash, check (with valid ID), Visa and Mastercard

Metro Parks Golf Courses (call individual courses for hours and payment information)


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