By Paige Pritchard
A woman pushes a baby stroller against a background of orange and yellow-leaved trees. She notices the beauty of the trees as she walks along the Cape La Croix bike trail. She passes Arena Park and notices the kids playing ball, swinging on swings and climbing the jungle gyms.
All around Cape Girardeau, people enjoy themselves in the 23 parks the city has to offer. Among them is Arena Park.
"Arena Park is the most-used park in all of Cape. There's lots of activities to do there, like softball, the Arena Building, and the SEMO District Fair," said Dan Muser, director of parks and recreation for the city.
"One of the most popular parks is Capaha Park," he said.
Capaha Park's biggest attraction is its rose garden. It was started in 1953 and now includes more than 40 rose beds. Other attractions are the duck pond and the swimming pool. It also is home to the Cape Capahas, a local baseball team.
The largest park in Cape is Shawnee Park with its 120 acres, 12 soccer fields and five softball fields. It also has concession stands, air-conditioned restrooms, covered dugouts with a water fountain at each dugout, electric scoreboards and parking space for 500 vehicles.
Another large city park is Osage Park. Osage has a community center and many fields that are usually used for football.
"Osage is large but not developed yet," Muser said.
Other parts of Cape's parks and trail system needs to be developed also. For this, Muser said the city has a 15-year master plan.
"The master plan includes adding trails and cleaning up the facilities. It also includes plans for a family aquatic center with lazy rivers and water slides. We are also thinking about adding a skate park," he explained.
Other than parks, the department takes care of the Central swimming pool. Central Pool is used by the city and the school. It is 50 meters long and 25 yards wide, has two one-meter diving boards and a three-meter board. It costs an adult $2 to swim, a senior $1.76, a youth $1.50 and children under 2 get in free.
There is also one major trail in Cape Girardeau, the Cape La Croix Recreation Trail. The trail is 4.7 miles long. It goes from Osage Park, through Cape Girardeau, and ends at the Shawnee Sports Complex. Visitors can walk, run, roller blade or bicycle.
Muser added, "I would like to point out to people who aren't familiar with Cape, the fact that we have a large number of parks. Our parks cover over 500 acres and are well-maintained. The parks are great places to go and enjoy yourself, and our trail is a great place to find some company, for it is used by a diverse group of people."
In Cape Girardeau, there's always a park close to home.
Pritchard is a student in Cape Girardeau public schools.