Recreation

'Just be a kid' at Greene Square this month

B.A. Morelli/The Gazette

Asiago, a sheep from the Old MacDonald Farm petting zoo at Bever Park, stands in a pen set up on the Greene Square lawn last Tuesday, with Pepper Jack the goat in the background.
B.A. Morelli/The Gazette Asiago, a sheep from the Old MacDonald Farm petting zoo at Bever Park, stands in a pen set up on the Greene Square lawn last Tuesday, with Pepper Jack the goat in the background.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Visitors to Greene Square were met last week with something one does not normally find in the park in the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids — furry farm animals.

Last Tuesday, kids and adults entered a temporary pen in the grassy lawn near the Rollic sculpture. There they could meet Asiago the sheep, Pepper Jack the goat, Edith and Eden the hens, and Chuck, the Flemish giant bunny from Old MacDonald Farm in Bever Park.

“A lot of the kids who came today had never been to a petting zoo or Old MacDonald Farm,” said Megan Lopata, the city’s animal exhibit coordinator, who chaperoned the animals. “Now, I’m sure they and their families will come out to the farm.”

As part of national Parks and Recreation month, the Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation department has designated Greene Square to showcase some of its activities and programs people may not know about, such as bringing the petting zoo at Bever Park to the downtown.

Dubbed “Just be a Kid,” the monthlong initiative has been offering similar activities for kids, families and adults with a focus on “re-creating outdoor summer fun enjoyed during childhood,” according to the city.

“We want to encourage people to be outdoors and be active, not that there isn’t room for all kinds of fun and recreation; there’s a variety,” said Scott Hock, Cedar Rapids parks and recreation director. “We want to introduce some less-structured games.”

The family-friendly focus on Greene Square comes at a time the park has been seeing increasing police activity due to disturbances, including a homicide last month, and city officials have been grappling with how to manage the park.

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Upcoming activities at Greene Square include outdoor and painted games on the lawn, including hopscotch, tic tac toe and more, with prizes from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. On July 31, the activity will include old-fashioned recess games led by the staff from Ushers Ferry Historic Village from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays have featured adult and family activities, such as Quidditch Basics led by the University of Iowa Quidditch Club. This Thursday will feature walking tours from the History Museum. Attendees can meet at the patio a 6:15 p.m. and participation costs $3. Following is a group fitness class called POUND from 7 to 8 p.m.

With the exception of the walking tours, all activities are free to the public and do not require advance registration.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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