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posted: 6/28/2012 3:37 PM

Keep busy in July, Park and Recreation Month

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It wasn't long ago when "Staycations" were all the rage; stay-at-home vacations that served as an affordable alternative to traveling during a time of high gas prices amid a tough economy.

People quickly discovered they didn't have to spend big bucks or drive long distances to enjoy good times with family and friends. See, there really are a lot of fun things to do right outside the front door.

So the Fox Valley Park District figured you'd enjoy living life like you're on vacation -- for an entire month. In conjunction with the National Recreation and Park Association, the park district is promoting July as Park and Recreation Month with 31 days of activities that can be enjoyed right here where we live.

Since 1985, America has celebrated July as the nation's official Park and Recreation Month. It's a great opportunity for residents to celebrate all that's good in our communities and gain a greater appreciation of what we collectively enjoy.

"Park and Recreation month spotlights all the great events, activities and facilities that bring us together and make our Fox Valley communities active and vibrant," said Laurie Hoffman, Director of Recreation and Communications. "It's also reminds us of the valuable benefits that parks and recreation provide."

Fox Valley is the state's second largest park district, serving a diverse population of more than 230,000 residents across a four-county region that encompasses 65 square miles -- including all of Aurora, North Aurora and Montgomery.

With 163 parks, 43 miles of trails and 26 lakes amid 2,300 acres of park land and open space, the park district offers a plethora of opportunities for outdoor recreation. And that's only the beginning.

With the Fox River as its centerpiece, the district owns and maintains 22 miles of shoreline parks and natural areas that are available for the public to enjoy.

For families with energetic children, there are 91 playgrounds and 65 basketball courts to run wild -- not to mention 27 outdoor tennis courts for practice and matches, and two outdoor water parks to cool off.

Play organized sports? There's always a game going on with 76 soccer fields and 54 ball fields.

For those who prefer a little more relaxation, Fox Valley features 57 park shelters -- 17 of them reservable for picnics and social gatherings.

On top of those amenities are dozens of low-cost offerings and many more that are free, including Concerts in the Park, disc golf at Jericho Lake and many of the sights and sounds at Red Oak Nature Center.

So take a day or three this July to enjoy a little P & R. As they say, every day is a great day to have fun. At a time when most of us our over-scheduled, make sure your calendar has room to schedule a little fun.

• Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at

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