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Forest Park recreation celebrates 50th anniversary Saturday
by Bill Baldowski
September 05, 2013 12:09 PM | 4075 views | 1 1 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Recreation and Leisure Services Department employees Willie Freeman, Elaine Corley, and Sharon Smith.
Recreation and Leisure Services Department employees Willie Freeman, Elaine Corley, and Sharon Smith.
Many things, like antiques, artwork and wine, gain value with the passage of time.

Much the same can be said of the Forest Park Recreation and Leisure Services Department, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary Saturday with a community festival, complete with entertainment, food, and arts and crafts vendors plus a host of activities for youngsters.

However, its director, Elaine Corley, the longest-tenured department employee with 50 years with the department, is promising an added attraction to the festival that should interest Forest Park residents, regardless of how long they have called the city home.

“Throughout the festival, we will be showing an hour-and-a-half historical video of Forest Park, centered on our recreation department,” Corley said.

“In addition, we have transformed another area into what we are calling a walk down memory lane with regard to our city and this department.”

To accent the historical significance of the city and her department, Corley said many activities throughout the event will be reminiscent of “old time” festivals when the only type of “power” was that generated by the individuals participating.

“We will have watermelon spitting and corn-shucking contests as well as three-legged sack races, horseshoes and other old-time recreation games,” she said.

There will be live entertainment as well as music by disk jockey DJ Dan and a karaoke contest.

The festivities will begin at 4 p.m. and will include a small ceremony honoring the 50-year anniversary of the department after which the recreation staff will be recognized.

Corley, also refers to this event as her own 50th anniversary from a career standpoint as she has been with the department since it was founded Sept. 9, 1963. She said she has been blessed to have many great staff members assisting her in bringing recreation and leisure services to the city.

Among those who will also be honored Saturday include deputy director and 38-year recreation employee Sharon Smith, 37-year employee Vanessa Douglas, Mike Morris, who has been with the department for 24 years and Mary Ann Conley, a 23-year veteran.

“It’s the long tenure of this group, which also includes Abby Jones who has been with us 20 years, that has made this department what it is today,” Corley said.

“Whether it is a public entity like Forest Park Recreation & Leisure Services, or a private one, its success stands on the shoulders of those who have been its foundation,” Corley said.

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