All Work & No Fun… Tri-parish rec departments strive to bring fun to area

Tuesday, Nov. 16
November 16, 2010
Neighbors angered over blight
November 18, 2010
Tuesday, Nov. 16
November 16, 2010
Neighbors angered over blight
November 18, 2010

Why is it fun to live in the Tri-parish area?

Ask that question to the Directors of Recreation across the region and you might be amazed at the things they have to say about the opportunities that are out there for you and your family to get out and have a good time.

“That’s our goal n to create fun things that everyone can get involved in and that everyone can enjoy,” Greg Sanamo, the parks, recreation and public facility director, of Lafourche Parish said. “Family-oriented fun. Having that goes a long way in making a community a great place to live.”

Lafourche Parish:

This was a busy year for recreational development in Lafourche Parish.

Sanamo said 2010 was a year of many much-needed projects to give a boost to “fun” in his parish.

Sanamo said Lafourche has made several walking tracks in the past year with the latest at Heroes Park in Thibodaux.

Heroes Park also has a newly built softball park, which he believes will get more adult-league softball played in the area.

Aside from sports and exercise-related projects, Sanamo has also overseen the refurbishing of several public boat launches n a project he said was a big point of emphasis to him because of Louisiana’s Sportsman’s Paradise reputation.

“When we talk about recreation and boat launches, a lot of people don’t associate the two,” Sanamo said. “But with our lifestyle here on the bayou, we depend on the water to have fun and to have family outings. We go out with our sons and our daughters and we go skiing, we go fishing, we go trawling, those are all things we consider part of life here, but they are also recreational parts of life, too.”

Sanamo said plans call for basketball and tennis courts in the Gheens and Kraemer areas to be relit.

In addition to that, the softball fields at the Holy Rosary public park in Larose and the Oakridge Park in Golden Meadow will also be relit with the fences at each park pushed back about 40 feet to 300 feet.

Doing that, Sanamo said, will make the fields the official length for organized softball events, which he thinks will bring tournaments and ultimately money into the community.

“Doing that will give us two parks that we’ll be able to travel people back and forth from so that we can attract tournaments from down here,” Sanamo said. “Outside people are going to be able to come in and play tournaments here. That’s going to be a big one for me. That’s going to be my crowning glory for this next year n to have something set up to where I can have 20 teams come down here, spend money at our hotels and our restaurants and spend money at our local stores and shops, while also raising money through concession stands for recreation all in the name of good, clean fun.”

While sports are what people associate with recreation, Sanamo has also worked to get everyone involved. In the past year, he’s created a program called “Stepping Up in Recreation,” which is designed to increase family camaraderie in the parish.

The first event took place in Gheens and was titled “Monster Mash and a Movie,” and it attracted “close to 600 people,” who came out and watched the outdoor movie with their fellow community members.

“We still have our Biddy leagues, our baseball leagues and our swimming leagues,” Sanamo said. “We need to have those things, they are vital to our community. But my thoughts are, ‘Lets give something to the people who aren’t team or sports-oriented. Lets give something to everybody.’”

Terrebonne Parish:

Travel a few miles across the way and discover how Terrebonne Parish Recreation (TPR) is also still chugging along to provide opportunities for children to develop their personalities through sports.

TPR Director Sterling Washington said youth football, cheerleading, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball are all available to Terrebonne Parish children.

Washington said the programs have become more and more popular each year as enrollment increased in football, volleyball and cheerleading.

“Some of our goals are to just continue to promote and to increase our registration for the youth of this parish,” Washington said. “There’s a $20 fee to participate and that’s one of the lowest fees within the Tri-parish area, so our goal is to get as many kids into the youth program as possible.”

Aside from the youth involvement, Washington said TPR also provides adult sports for anyone looking to stay competitive or to get sports-related exercise.

“We have adult volleyball for ladies, we have adult basketball for men and we have adult softball for men and women,” Washington said. “So that’s something we’re looking to do for anyone who has a little free time and would like to stay involved, as well, to get a little relief away from work.”

Washington admits the adult programs are just the icing on the cake for the program, because it’s primarily about the kids.

He said his primary goal when designing the athletic programs was to provide children with the structure and framework they need to get on the right path in life at the earliest of ages.

Through sports, the plan is to build community togetherness, family camaraderie and change lives n for the better.

“Sporting programs overall, I think, build a lot of character in kids, a lot of discipline in kids and it teaches them hard work and team building skills,” Washington said. “But it also gives families an opportunity to get together on the weekend and to come out and support the kids. You can just see kids’ eyes light up when they see a parent in the stands out there cheering for them.

“That’s the ultimate goal n to get these kids to have a positive feeling at the recreation level with the hope that it will carry on to the junior high and high school level where hopefully they’d want to continue to participate in the program.”

St. Mary Parish:

Don’t forget about our neighbors to the west in St. Mary Parish, because there’s plenty of public fun to be had there, too.

Morgan City Recreation Director Seth Thomas said that like in Lafourche and Terrebonne, his city also has just completed their flag and tackle football programs and are about to start Biddy basketball.

Aside from that, though, some future projects are on tap that could spark some added life into the public facilities in the city.

“We’re in the process of possibly building another ballpark where the Complex Park is located to give us two ballparks, so we could host some tournaments in the old Swamp Garden area of Morgan City,” Thomas said.

In addition to the possible new baseball field, Thomas said the city’s tennis courts have also been touched up recently, in advance of a Junior Grand Prix tournament, which will bring more than 100 kids into the area.

“Our tennis courts were also just resurfaced, so we now have eight tennis courts in our complex and they’ve all recently gotten that done.”

Those not interested in sports will still be able to get their entertainment fix in Morgan City in 2011.

That’s because the city’s largest campground, Lake End Park, is seeing some renovations in the new year that are sure to please anyone.

“A lot of our budget money is going to the park, so that they can build a couple cabins along the lake so that they can upgrade their park, as well,” Thomas said.

All of these projects combined, Thomas said, give he and fellow Morgan City residents pride in their accomplishments. Because as he said, having sources of free family fun are things that could be the deciding factor in whether or not a family chooses to make Morgan City its home.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said. “We have six playgrounds in our city that are currently used and we have some other ones that are currently planned. Then under the raised highway, we have a lot of basketball courts where people can play even when it’s raining. We think recreation is very important and we hope our citizens do, too.”

So, why is it fun to live in the Tri-parish area?

Spend an afternoon tossing the ball around in one of Lafourche’s newly lit fields or catch a TPR basketball game in the coming weeks, to find out for yourself.

If you trust Sanamo, Washington and Thomas, you’ll more than likely be very pleasantly surprised with what you see.