There's a new focus on programming at Pullen Park thanks to Jenna Kostka, the park's program manager.
Kostka started in the role about a year ago, but her plans for classes and activities are just coming online at the popular park in downtown Raleigh, which draws about 1 million visitors a year. They began with a series of Monday morning playdates for preschoolers. The first one was this week.
They'll continue with a slate of programs, which Kostka says should only grow over time. She knows a thing or two about family fun - before moving to Raleigh, she was the recreation manager for Disney World's Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts.
Here's what's coming up:
- The weekday morning playdates for preschoolers and their adults will continue. Kostka said four more dates are planned for this summer. Registration will be available through the city's RecLink on March 22 for those summer dates. It's available now for the spring dates.
- From 10 a.m. to noon, March 17, the park will host a St. Patrick's Day Gold Hunt. Scour the park in search of the gold for a chance to win prizes, including free ride tickets. No registration is required - but gold is limited to three pieces per family.
- Pullen Park is home to one of the city's about a dozen egg hunts on March 19. The hunt will start promptly at 11 a.m. That evening, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., there will be a flashlight egg hunt for teens ages 12 to 17. It's free, but pre-registration by March 15 is requested.
- Mystery Movie Nights are scheduled for each Friday evening in April. The outdoor movies will start at 8 p.m. Follow @RaleighParks on Twitter for clues each week leading up to the feature presentation. Be the first to guess the movie and attend the showing for a chance to win a prize! The movies will be either G or PG. Lawn chairs or blankets are recommended. Picnics are welcome, but no alcohol.
- Free Zumba classes are scheduled for 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., March 10, March 24, April 7 and April 21.
Kostka tells me that she's already working to add activities, especially more preschool playdates, based on the popularity. She's also working with the city's teen program to add more events for that age group - which can be hard to come by.
Pullen Park already has plenty to keep families busy - the rides, playground, trails, picnic areas and boats. But the space has the potential to offer even more - especially on slower weekdays.
"We have a lot of opportunity here, a lot of space to utilize," she said. "If you're coming to the park, we want to offer more experiences than we already offer."
The best way to find out what's happening at Pullen and other Raleigh parks, is to get familiar with the city's RecLink, an online calendar and registration system, or head over to the closest Raleigh community center near you and pick up a hard copy of the Leisure Ledger.