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Monday, March 30, 2009

Girsh Park: Healthy Free Fun

Modern Version of Ancient Egg Hunt

By Silvia Uribe

Community events are made so that we can cherish a happy environment and enjoy unexpectedly meeting friends and neighbors. These really bring back to us the sense of community that sometimes can get lost in the business of our individual lives.

Girsh Park promises a lot of fun for children and their parents at the Goleta Egg Hunt on April 11. Ryan Harrington, the park's executive director, expects to have around 1,000 attendees, up from the 750 who participated last year. Imagine that! "The collective fun starts when community volunteers come together to fill the plastic eggs with candy," he said, and then comes the hiding of the eggs.

The Easter egg is not an ordinary egg. It carries with it a history of traditions and beliefs. The Easter egg stands for fertility and rebirth as the celebration has been derived from the ancient pagan spring festivals. Decorated Easter eggs are also given to friends and loved ones as presents, and have come to represent a token of friendship.

This is how the celebration at Girsh Park will work: Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. and the hunt at 11 on the dot, Harrington emphasized. There will be five different fields for different ages and abilities: toddlers, 4-6, 6-10, 10-12, and "Challengers" for children with special needs. The Egg Hunt is free and the Easter Bunny will be waiting for you.

Today, when going out with a family can cost a bundle, free activities become a need. If we count ourselves in the 80 people of people who have been affected by the rough times of our economy, we may be forced to eliminate expensive outings, but fun and family bonding doesn't need to make a hole in our pockets. In fact, Girsh Park is the perfect place to find many kinds of free entertainment.

Named in honor of its generous lead benefactors, the park opened in 1999 adjacent to the Camino Real Marketplace shopping center. Since then, it has become an essential part of our community. The park, which in May will be celebrating its 10th anniversary, is owned and operated by the Foundation for Girsh Park and directed by volunteers. It also receives funds from the City of Goleta. "Girsh Park is a model for public and private partnerships to provide services to the community," said Harrington.

Over the past two years, Harrington said, with a well balanced budget, the park has been able to increase programs and activities, creating healthy fun for everyone. Here's an idea of what we can find there:

• Baseball and soccer tournaments

• Baseball and soccer summer camps

• Free soccer program for all kids from the Goleta School District

• Yoga, nutrition, and strength training

Other yearly events at the park include fireworks on July 4, the Lemon Festival in the fall, music in the park every Sunday in September, Halloween for small children on October 31, and, for the first time, this year on December 6, the International Santa Barbara Marathon Children's Fest.

If you're interested in renting out the baseball and soccer fields, the basketball courts, the group and family picnic areas, or the children's play area, you can. Just call Ryan Harrington at 968-2773.

See you at Girsh Park!

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-posted at the

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