City parks to get spruced up today

Saturday, April 27, 2002

In the 17 years since the annual Friends of the Park Day was started, Jackie Todd has missed only twice. Usually he's at Capaha Park instructing Scouts on how to plant flowers in the bed south of the swimming pool. He reminds them to bring their families back later in the spring to see the results.

Todd and hundreds of other volunteers will spend this morning spiffying up Cape Girardeau's parks during Friends of the Parks Day. They will paint, plant flowers and clean up at some of the city's 23 parks. The grounds of the Cape Girardeau Public Library also are going to get some attention.

Besides the satisfaction of helping improve their community, the volunteers will receive lunch donated by Schnucks and a free T-shirt.

About 225 people have pre-registered to participate. As many as 500 have turned out in the past in good weather. Today could be rainy. In the past, work has continued in a drizzle.

Much of the energy will be directed at picking up trash and planting more than 1,000 flowers in the city's larger parks, said Dan Muser, the city's director of parks and recreation. "The bigger ones are the ones we focus on. They tend to have the most activity and by the same token need the most attention," Muser said.

Most of the flowers will be planted at Capaha Park, although the city has scaled back the number planted compared to past years.

"It gets to back to a maintenance issue trying to maintain them through the rest of the summer," Muser said.

City staff will supervise much of the work and already have prepared the flower beds. "We have kind of gotten to the point where we depend on this to get our flower planting done," Muser said. "Getting it done at this time of year when we're so busy anyway gives us a bit of a jump-start."

Trash collection also is a central activity of the day. Workers usually fill two Dumpsters -- one for recyclables -- at Capaha Park alone.

Besides Capaha Park, Muser said Arena, May Greene, Washington, Indian, Cherokee and Cape Rock parks probably will get some attention. "It all depends on who signed up and is available," Muser said.

Bring a rake

The Exchange Club ordinarily works as a group at Dennis Scivally Park. In past years, fraternities and sororities, Scouts and some church organizations have participated.

Volunteers are asked to bring a rake or trowel if they have one. The city will provide trash bags.

Todd was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for 12 years and now is on the board of the Park Development Foundation. His involvement with the parks started when his family moved to Cape Girardeau 32 years ago. When his children became old enough to play ball, he began coaching.

"All of that occurred in the parks," Todd said. "I've been involved ever since."

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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