Summer events underway
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
This summer, a wide variety of educational programming is underway at Stackhouse Park.
A “Summer Solstice Celebration” was held June 21, followed by a “Summer Turkey Clinic” June 22. On June 25, Jill Henning from University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown hosted a tick education seminar. Last week, Stackhouse Park partnered with employees of Community Arts Center of Cambria County (CACCC) to offer a “Nature Camp” for local children.
Lauren Lazzari, a Stackhouse Park board member, said that this summer’s programming has been well-received so far.
“The turn-out has been great,” Lazzari said, adding that she’s anxious for all of the other planned events that will take place now through the end of August. All of these events are open to the public.
The next event on the Stackhouse Park calendar is “Roll and Read.” This event is being brought to fruition by Parents as Teachers in collaboration with Beginnings Inc. It is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 20.
The event is designed to emphasize the importance of exercise and early literacy among young children.
Local businesses, authors and non-profit organizations have agreed to participate in order to make this event a success. Those include Cambria County Library; Macaroni Kid — Johnstown; West Hills Regional Fire Department; Girl Scouts; Head Start; Alternative Community Resource Program, Inc. (ACRP); The Learning Lamp; Young Heart Books; author Joe Moore; author Phyllis Baker and illustrator Tom Baker.
Parents who wish to participate in “Roll and Read” are encouraged to put their children in strollers or wagons and “roll” toward Stackhouse Park’s Luzerne Street entrance, where they can then begin a one-mile journey that will lead them to a total of ten interactive stations.
Martha Faust, program director for Parents as Teachers, said that each station will be fun and fast-paced. Additional activities include nature bingo; a noodle necklace craft and storytelling.
“There are so many benefits when it comes to parents reading to their children,” Faust said. “An event like this also helps get kids and their parents outside. Stackhouse Park is one of the most beautiful places we have in Johnstown.”
Though the event is most suitable for young children, older siblings are welcome.
“There is a CamTran stop near Stackhouse Park,” Faust said. “We want people to view this as an accessible event. ‘Roll and Read’ is about building community, and letting families in the area know what kinds of different agencies are out there. We all want to get our names out there, let people know what it is we’re doing and how we’re helping the community.”
Five days later, on July 25, Kristen Panek and Leah Johncola of Cambria County Library’s Children’s Department will read to children as part of “Storytime in Stackhouse,” which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. that morning. Panek and Johncola will also provide some hands-on activities.
Once again this year, Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company will present Shakespeare in the Park. This year’s play will be “Cymbeline,” and performances are to take place beginning at 7 p.m. July 18 to 20 and July 24 to 27. Tickets can be purchased in advance online by visiting www.bandofbrothersshakespeare.org. Tickets can also be purchased in-person at the performance site. Attendees will be transported into and out of the park in limousine shuttles, which are being sponsored by AmeriServ. Picnics, blankets and lawn chairs are permitted. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Aug. 10, Girl Scout Morgan Allen will lead a tree identification walk in the park. As part of her Silver Award Project for Girl Scouts, Allen created tree identification markers in order to help educate people about the variety of trees that can be found throughout Stackhouse Park. Those who wish to join Allen are to meet at the Park’s Luzerne Street entrance.
“The tree identification project was all Morgan’s idea,” Lazzari said. “She was so excited about the project, and we’re grateful for all the hard work and effort she put into each tree marker. They look great.”
Local artist and Women’s Help Center employee Shayna Blackford will host “Art in the Park” beginning at 11 a.m. Aug. 14. “Art in the Park” will be held under Stackhouse Park’s new pavilion, which is located close by to the Park’s Luzerne Street entrance.
“Shayna has been a tremendous volunteer for Stackhouse Park, “Lazzari said. “She created a majority of the awesome Stackhouse merchandise that we have for sale in the webstore at www.stackhousepark.com. She’s been very generous with her time and talents, and we’re looking forward to having her work with children on art projects once again this summer.”
The final event of the summer is Stackhouse Park’s “Run the Park” and “Annual Jamboree,” both of which are scheduled for Aug. 24.
“Run the Park” offers three race options for teens and adults: a 10-mile race, 10K and 5K. There is a 1/4 mile “Trail Trot” for racers 8 years old and under (all Trail Trotters are to receive a participation medal).
“Participants range from children just learning how to use their legs in the trot, 5K walkers of all ages and veteran trail runners tackling the 10K and 10-mile challenge,” said Stackhouse Park board member Michael Zibura. “‘Run the Park’ gives Stackhouse Park a chance to showcase the trails and introduce folks to the wonderful resource we have here, right in the center of town. This is the 11th running and the feedback is always extremely positive.”
All courses wind through Stackhouse Park; some portions of the longer races are technical in nature because the trails are rocky and rooted. Participants who want to avoid the technical courses are encouraged to register for the 5K race in lieu of the 10-mile or 10K races.
All racers who register by Aug. 9 are guaranteed a race t-shirt. Awards will be given to the top three male and female finishers in the 10 mile, 10K and 5K race.
Childcare will be provided free of charge. Children will be entertained by age-appropriate games and activities near the finish line. For more information about childcare, visit the race registration page online.
Zibura encourages people to register and join in on the race day fun.
“Stackhouse is a beautiful place to walk, hike and run,” he said. “There is something about moving through the forest that makes the effort a little more relaxing. This event gives people a little added incentive to get out and enjoy the trails with the Stackhouse Park and trail running community. The event is super family friendly and there are always activities for children to participate in, even while the parents are running.”
Online registration for “Run the Park” can be found via the ultrasignup.com website by searching for “Run the Park” or “Stackhouse Park.”
All proceeds from “Run the Park” will be donated to Stackhouse Park, Inc., a non-profit organization that helps to promote, maintain and manage the park year-round.
“Proceeds from this year’s run are going directly back into our operating fund,” Zibura said. “Stackhouse Park has not fully recovered from last year’s storm and rain damage. We also sustained a lot of damage from the tornado in May, and efforts are still being made to clean up. The run proceeds will help the park clean up existing trails and build new trails where needed.”
After the race, Stackhouse Park’s “Annual Jamboree” will feature a picnic and live music. The event is open to Stackhouse Park members, “Run the Park” participants and their families, and prospective Stackhouse Park members.
“We have the best hotdogs, corn on the cob and watermelon post-race,” Zibura said. “Music is provided by the Rockaholics, and we expect Reptile Encounters to be back this year. We also expect REI out of Bedford to be present with some giveaways and activities. Don't just run and leave. Stick around to enjoy the fun.”
Lazzari and Zibura reiterated how beautiful a place Stackhouse Park is, and how programming and memberships help to maintain the Park by keeping it accessible, clean, and welcoming for people of all ages.
“As a child,” Lazzari said, “I remember coming to the park with my family. Now, I feel so fortunate that I get to share the park with my own children. In our fast-paced, digital world, coming to our park to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature is great.
“We’re happy to offer all of this programming in order to encourage people to come to the park. This summer has marked the first time that many families have ventured into the park, and many of them told me how completely in awe of the park they were. We do this programming to let people know what a great asset Stackhouse Park is to the community.”
Stackhouse Park spans over 250 acres. The main entrance is located at 998 Luzerne Street in Johnstown’s Westmont neighborhood. For more information about the park, visit www.stackhousepark.com or check out the Park’s official Facebook page.