Tucson Parks and Recreation is going mobile — bringing activities and programs to city parks through a brand new program launching this month.
The Ready, Set, Rec! program, set to launch Thursday, Feb. 25, will deploy six vans filled with games, activities and sports equipment to different parks every week.
"The program will ensure that the entire community is served and has an opportunity to participate in recreation activities near where they live," Tucson Parks and Recreation said in a news release announcing the program.
Each van will always be stocked with items like giant yard games, cards, board games and corn hole, says Dawnee Moreno, Parks and Recreation manager. The department also has carnival games and supplies for fishing, STEM activities, container gardening and other activities which will rotate among all the vans. Some activities will be led by staff while others will be available to use independently.
The vans will be equipped with PPE including first aid kits, masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes and equipment will be sanitized between uses.
The city's recreation centers have been closed since March 2020 and the new program will bring activities to the community to enjoy outdoors while social distancing.
The Tucson City Council and Mayor Regina Romero voted in November to allocate $400,000 of Federal CARES Act money to purchase the vehicles, equipment, staff training and other associated expenses to bring the program to life.
“I am proud that we have been able to use CARES Act funds to create a safe, recreation opportunity, during this time, when it has been so hard to come together, and our parks have been so limited, due to COVID-19,” said Council Member Richard Fimbres in a news release. “I want to thank the mayor and colleagues on the council, for support of this effort and appreciate the work of my staff, the mayor’s staff and by city staff, who made this become a reality, and people now can relieve some anxiety and stress.”
Moreno says the program will help bring programming to people who may not live near a recreation center but live close to a park.
"Enhancements like portable frisbee golf, badminton, pickle ball may entice our community to seek out classes in our department or elsewhere with being active, healthy, and social being our goal," Moreno said via email. "If we can get neighbors out of their homes, trying something new and socializing for a bit we would consider that a success."
Mobile recreation programs have been popular in other places across the country and something Tucson considered in the past but was cost prohibitive, Moreno says.
"Mobile recreation has been something we have been exploring for a few years and we want to create an accessible park and recreation system for all residents," Moreno says. "We are committed, as a department, to equity by specifically focusing our resources to close disparities in park access and recreation program participation."
The vans will hit the road starting Thursday, Feb. 25. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at Rodeo Park, 5000 S. Nogales Highway at 1 p.m. One van will remain at the park providing activities until 3 p.m. and the other five vans will head to other parks across the city to host activities from 2-4 p.m.
See the Ready Set Rec van schedule for Feb. 25 through the end of the month here. You can also follow the program on Instagram and Facebook to keep track of its locations.