Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department earns state honors

From left are Jonathan Peiffer of RJA Architecture; Kurt Montei and Dean Chambers of J2 Engineering & Environmental Design; Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy; Apache Junction Parks Superintendent Nick Blake; Apache Junction Park Ranger Supervisor Kelly Marti; Apache Junction, City Manager Bryant Powell; Apache Junction Vice Mayor Chip Wilson and Apache Junction Parks Director Liz Langenbach. (Submitted photo)

The Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department on July 25 received three honors from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association during its annual awards presentation.

The three awards from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association. (Submitted photo)

The department was given awards for Outstanding Program (Youth Enrichment Award) for its “Thank Goodness It’s Friday” program, the Outstanding Facility Award for Flatiron Community Park and the Outstanding Special Event award for the Earth Day ladybug release. The latter two awards were in the midsize-city category, according to a release.

The state parks association held its annual awards ceremony at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale. The awards committee is made up of colleagues from a dozen parks agencies statewide. Awards are given in 23 categories, according to the release.

“Yet another sign of our accomplished parks department,” Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy said in the release.

“We have consistently earned honors and shown our innovation with great facilities, programs and events. Flatiron Park is already one of the most popular places in the city and it’s been open a little over a year,” he said.

The “Thank Goodness It’s Friday” program was developed in response to the Apache Junction Unified School District’s move to a four-day school week in 2015. The parks department saw the need for youth activities on Fridays and created a variety of programming with support from the Apache Junction Public Library and others. Over nearly three years of Fridays, the program had 6,000 visitors and 3,000 lunches served, according to the release.

Flatiron Community Park, 100 N. Apache Trail, includes a water feature. (Richard H. Dyer, Independent Newsmedia)

The initial phase of the development of Flatiron Park includes a splash-pad, restrooms, large ramada, open seating turf and “Think Water” and “Think Desert” gardens.

The Earth Day event is held at EarthHeart Park, a community garden outside a private health facility in the city. As part of the festival, more than 150,000 ladybugs are released into the garden by attendees.

The Earth Day event includes a lineup of entertainment from dancing to mariachi music, vendors of the homemade variety, a farmers market, kids activities and the Ladybug Queen herself. The city partners with more than 13 different agencies and boasts hundreds of volunteer hours to deliver this impressive event, according to the release.

Follow the city of Apache Junction at Twitter.com/AJCityAZ or facebook.com/CityofAJ.

The Apache Junction Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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