2020 in Review: Safe opportunities for recreation

2020 in Review: Safe opportunities for recreation
Posted on 01/26/2021

From exploring nature on bikes and trails to working out with safety precautions in place, the City's diverse recreation opportunities helped Lenexans stay healthy, active and happy throughout the year.

Rec Center exercises flexibility to meet community's fitness needs

The Lenexa Rec Center’s membership — over 10,000 strong early in the year — plummeted by more than one-third in the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic. During a two-month closure early on, we developed detailed plans to operate the facility while meeting evolving state and county requirements. The Rec Center reopened to members in June and gradually became accessible to nonmembers over time.

For those eager to get back to the gym, we put in place numerous safety precautions. Those who weren’t comfortable returning in person didn’t have to give up on their fitness routines. The Rec Center brought the gym back to people in a variety of ways, including offering dozens of free online workout videos, outdoor classes, virtual personal training services and a Virtual Class Pass to take selected Group X fitness classes from the comfort of home.

New sport courts are a big hit

In June, we opened newly rebuilt sport courts in two parks, which quickly became popular destinations. Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park now has two tennis courts and a roller hockey rink that also accommodates soccer and broom ball. At Bois D’Arc Park, four old tennis courts became eight state-of-the-art pickleball courts.

Bikeshare program sees early success

Lenexa’s bikeshare program, a partnership with RideKC Bike, launched Oct. 1 and saw excellent participation, with 436 trips taken in October and November 2020. These e-bikes — available at about a dozen locations across the city — were put in storage for the winter and will be available again in spring.

Lenexans get outdoors in record numbers

Lenexa rediscovered outdoor recreational opportunities available in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw much greater use of trails, parks, playgrounds, sport courts, athletic fields and other amenities than usual. More than 310,000 people passed by pedestrian counters at Black Hoof Park, Little Mill Creek North Park and Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park as of late November 2020. 

A growing number of kids sought to learn fundamental skills of popular sports through Lenexa Parks & Recreation. Our youth leagues attracted record participation in 2020, with a 77% increase in youth basketball registration and a 14% increase in tough soccer registration.

Successful season at Indian Trails Aquatic Center

During summer 2020, we were able to operate Lenexa’s largest outdoor pool — Indian Trails Aquatic Center — and accommodate all Lenexa residents who visited. Overall, we maintained social distancing practices and didn’t need to institute wait times for entry. As a result, Lenexa Parks & Recreation:

  • Offered life-saving swim lessons.
  • Welcomed more than 24,000 smiling faces — 4,000 more visitors than last year. 
  • Wiped down high-touch areas approximately 14,126 times to ensure staff and patron safety.

Altered festivals and programs provide socially distanced fun

In the City of Festivals, residents love to come together for lively community events. During the pandemic, many popular festivals and events were either canceled or reimagined with social distancing in mind. 

Highlights included the virtual Freedom Run 5K/10K, Gobbler Gallop 5K, drive-in Movies in the Park, fishing derbies, pop-up concerts in partnership with the Lyric Opera and Kansas City Symphony and three home/yard decorating contests (Community Days Porch Parade, Fall-O-Ween Yard Tour and Deck the City Holiday Lights Tour).

When the pandemic initially descended in the spring, all recreation programs continued in a virtual format, including dance, karate, art and homeschool PE.

Published  January 26, 2021