Parks or Greenways can be an urban oasis; whisking us away from traffic and putting us back in touch with nature. Some are as close as our front doors, but can make us feel as though we’re miles and miles away. There are more than 200 parks, golf courses, pools, nature centers, and campgrounds on over 210,000 acres in the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation system. When enjoyed responsibly, they’re opportunities to recreate all year.
Like they say, safety is no accident. And playing by the rules doesn’t mean parks are fun-free zones. Playing it safe simply means giving yourself and anyone else visiting the park a chance to enjoy the experience in these incredible community spaces.
Take care and keep your distance from wild animals in the park. Yes, that includes the cute ones, like bunnies and squirrels. Even though they’re sharing the park with us, they’re all still wild animals. Don’t feed them, pet them, or try to pick them up. Enjoy them with some space in between, and everybody wins!
With just a few exceptions, like the recently-opened beach at Ramsey Creek Park, there is no swimming or wading in creeks, ponds, lakes, or other bodies of water on park property. Heed the signs, and always avoid low-lying greenways during or immediately after heavy rains.
Manners matter, even in the park. Ring your bike bell, or announce a friendly, “on your left,” as you pass other park goers on paths or trails. Use your “outside voice” within reason, and always pick up your trash. Playing on one of Park and Recreations amazing ball fields? Thank the refs and congratulate the other team, win or lose.
No matter where you are, always be aware of your surroundings, reminds Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer, Eugene Jarka. His patrol area includes large parks, like McAlpine Creek, and smaller neighborhood spaces, like Mason Wallace and Boyce Road parks.
Officer Jarka recommends:
- Enjoy the park with a friend.
- Avoid isolated spaces.
- Keep car doors locked.
- Secure valuables out of sight. Better yet, leave them at home.
“The best advice,” said Jarka, “is if you see something, say something. If it doesn’t look right, call 9-1-1.”