By Sheridan Cyr
The New Britain Parks and Recreation department makes it impossible to be bored this summer. The city is home to nine unique parks; some include playscapes, basketball courts, picnic areas, pools, athletic fields, gardens, splash pads and so much more. Along with the parks themselves, the department has programs all summer long geared toward all ages and abilities.
Hosting a gathering is easy with the Parks and Recreation department. Rent a picnic area at A.W. Stanley Park for just $20 for residents or $30 for non-residents. Pavilions at Chesley Park Splash Pad can be reserved for four-hour periods, either 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 4 to 8 p.m. for $100.
The department has a program called “Terrific Toys” in which party necessities can be rented, such as bounce houses, spin art, 30-foot high slides, concessions, bouncy boxing, gladiator jousting and more. The rental includes delivery, set-up, ride operators and breakdown of each attraction. Prices vary. Call the Terrific Toys line at (860) 826-3358. Many of the athletic fields can also be rented, as well as concert shells and the rose garden, by calling the department at (860) 826-3360.
New Britain offers two pools and two splash pads. The splash pads at Chesley Park and Willow Street Park have free admission. There are various methods of payment for the pools. A one-day pass is $3 for ages 6 to 17 and $4 for ages 18 and up. An individual summer season pass is $30, or save money and buy a pass for the whole family for $$50. Day swim is from 1 to 4:45 p.m. and evening swim is from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. with the locker room closing at 7:30. Both pool locations also have weekly pool parties on Friday evenings which include games, prizes, a DJ, inflatables and more.
Swim lessons are available for all ages at the pools by weekly sessions. The department offers many other lessons, such as tennis, basketball, dance, piano, guitar and voice lessons.
The senior center in New Britain has much to offer. There is an exercise program every Monday and Tuesday at the center from 9:15 to 10 a.m., ballroom dancing on Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m., craft classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and zumba classes on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 10 a.m. The center also offers low-cost transportation around the city and neighboring towns for seniors.
There are several relaxation programs for adults, including Hatcha Flow yoga lessons on Wednesdays starting July 9th to the 30th from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. for $30. Hatcha detox yoga is offered Saturdays at 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. through the same dates for $30. Thai Chi classes are offered on Saturdays from 8 to 9 a.m. from July 9th to August 27th for $45.
Several upcoming events are to be kept in mind as well. Bus trips, which need to be booked at least one month in advance, are available through the department. For $89, take a trip to the Saratoga Race Course on August 6th to see powerful thoroughbreds running at the oldest track in the country. The trip includes round trip transportation, reserved seating and a voucher for a hot dog and soda. For $99, catch a Whale Watch adventure on August 13th to see some of the most graceful and rare mammals in the world. The trip includes transportation to Plymouth, Massachusetts, a visit to Plymouth Rock and your ticket on the tour. For $179, experience the Nantucket Island Excursion on August 20th. Take a walk on the beach, shop, eat and explore. The trip includes transportation including the High Speed Ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket, an island tour with a guide, and leisure time for lunch and shopping.For $79, see the award-winning sculpture installed on the three rivers of downtown providence, “Waterfire” at Water Place Park in Providence, Rhode Island on August 27th. The trip includes transportation and a tour with a guide.
Most trips depart from the commuter parking lot across from the Target Store located at 475 Hartford Road. Participants are notified via letter of exact departure times and location at least two weeks prior to the trip. Participants must be over the age of 18 or accompanied by an adult.
Other dates to look out for this summer are the Great American Boom, the annual July Fourth celebration at Stanley Quarter Park; “Flick & Float,” a fun night at Willow Brook pool on July 29 where children float in the pool and see Disney’s “Inside Out” starting at 8 p.m. for $3; “Pets-a-Palooza,” at Walnut Hill Park from 5 to 9 p.m. on July 20th, which will feature a live concert, cartoonists, games, a puppy meet-and-greet, a K9 Frisbee Dog Show and other pet-related activities; the Downtown Players Youth Theater’s production of “Aladdin, Jr.” on August 3rd and 4th at 7 p.m. in the New Britain High School auditorium for $5; and free concerts with the Summer Music Festival every Monday and Wednesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. at Walnut Hill Park’s Darius Miller Memorial Band Shell.