ITHACA, N.Y. — The City of Ithaca organized a community event to support and bring awareness to the city’s public parks Thursday afternoon at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC).

“Party for the Parks” kicked off an initiative to bring more focus to the well being of city’s parks. Both the Ithaca Youth Bureau and the Ithaca Planning Department are working together with consultants to ensure that the city’s parks are flourishing with a “park master plan.”

Megan Wilson, senior planner at the city planning department, said Ithaca is home to approximately 20 public parks.

“This is really the first opportunity for the public to get involved,” Wilson said.

Liz Woodard Khlomann, director of the Ithaca Youth Bureau, said the park master plan will be a combination of public input through local meetings like “Party for the Parks,” and online surveys which are currently being organized.

“(This event) is to bring people in, to recognize the parks that we have, to identify some of the things at the park that people enjoy, things they wish were there which aren’t already,” Khlomann said. “This will give people a voice in creating these kinds of things.”

The event on Thursday included park trivia, a raffle to win skating for two at Cass Park, and a “graffiti wall” for kids to draw on. Scattered around the room were boards with various features of the city parks. Guests in attendance were given stickers to pin on the boards for Wilson and Khlomann to be able to identify the most popular attributes of the parks.

“I think it’s great for neighborhoods to have small parks near people’s homes,” Wilson said. “People can gather there, there are playgrounds, they’re within walking distance so people can access them easily, which I think is really important.”

Additionally, Khlomann said the parks acted as a kind of attraction for the city.

“The combination of both our small neighborhood parks and our larger waterfront parks provides something for all age ranges in our area for activities that promote health and wellness in the community,” Khlomann said. “Our parks, especially our waterfront parks with the waterfront trail, act as destinations for people traveling from out of town – it brings people locally and from outer areas – I think they’re very important for quality of life.”

Thursday’s event was the kickoff for a two-part celebration which will continue on through the weekend. The second part of “Party for the Parks” will carry on at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Cass Park skating rink.

Alyvia is a Crime Reporter with The Ithaca Voice. She graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Journalism and Photography.