Thursday, September 30, 2010

Department Wins Awards

The department was recognized with four awards at the 56th Annual Conference of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center earlier this month. The society’s statewide awards program honors individuals, agencies and organizations throughout Virginia that have demonstrated excellence in 17 different categories during the previous year.

Richmond was recognized with a Best New Renovation/Addition Award for its restoration of the lake in Forest Hill Park. Through the years the lake had been neglected and become so overgrown that many people did not know it existed. The department restored it to its original historic appearance while working closely with the neighborhood to preserve the wetland environment. The project came in under budget and was finished ahead of schedule.

The department also won an award for Best Promotional Effort for a Specialty Piece for its note cards featuring the artwork of children attending the department's summer camps. The note cards were used by the children to send thank you notes to people who made donations in the Send-a-Kid-to-Camp campaign. they are also available for the public to purchase at community centers and City Hall.

Also at the conference, CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, was recognized with a Distinguished Private Sector Service Award for its support of the summer basketball league. Since 2007, CarMax and its foundation have given $229,000 to improve the basketball courts at Pine Camp Arts and Community Center and to provide uniforms, equipment and staff for the league.

Sureatha McGhee, an employee since 1974, was also recognized at the conference with a Distinguished Service Award. She has been a member of VRPS since 1985 and served on many of the society’s committees.

“We would like to congratulate all of our award winners for their outstanding entries into this year’s competition,” said VRPS President Lakita Frazier. “Entries from around the state in every population category allow us to recognize the best in our business while raising the standards and quality of media promotions and events across the board.”

“As a department, and with assistance from corporate partners like CarMax, we work hard to provide excellent parks and recreation services and facilities to the residents of Richmond and visitors to our city, and we are honored to receive this statewide recognition from our peers,” said J. R. Pope, director of the department.

More than 700 professionals in the park and recreation field attended the conference. The mission of the society is to unite all professionals, students, and interested lay persons engaged in the field of recreation, parks, and other leisure services in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information on the society, contact the state office at (804) 730-9447 or visit

Friday, September 17, 2010

Exhibit to Feature Emerging Young Artists

The department will host an art exhibit featuring the works of several of Richmond’s emerging young artists. The exhibit, titled “The Up and Comings,” will open with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on October 1 at the Spotlight Gallery, which is located at the department’s Pine Camp Arts and Community Center, 4901 Old Brook Rd.

“This exhibit is an opportunity for the public to be introduced to these talented young adults as they move toward their artistic maturity,” says Shaun Casselle, who works with the department’s art programs. “The featured artists are either college students or recent graduates, and their artwork is fused with both traditional and contemporary techniques.”

The exhibit will be on display through November 5. Spotlight Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Historical Reenactment Commissioned

Richmond, VA – In honor of the Joseph Bryan Park 100th anniversary, the Friends of Bryan Park has commissioned local playwright and founder of Richmond’s African-American Repertory Theater Derome Scott-Smith to write and produce an historical reenactment about Gabriel, the slave whose life and death are forever entwined with the park’s history. The play, a one-man show, will be performed for free in the park on Friday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. and on October 1, 8, and 15, at 6:30 p.m. Local actor, Timothy L. Harris, who is an imposing 6 feet 6 inches tall, will portray Gabriel.

Gabriel planned a slave uprising in 1800, now known as Gabriel’s Rebellion, which was probably the largest conceived in the history of the South. During that summer, the insurrection's leaders met at Young's Spring, beside the creek that runs through Bryan Park. Saturday, Aug. 30, of that year was the night chosen for the uprising, but in a twist of fate, the plans were foiled by a rainstorm that caused flash flooding. The delay ultimately led to the capture and execution of 26 slaves, including Gabriel and his brother.

In the monologue, Harris will portray Gabriel while he was imprisoned awaiting his execution, speculating on his desire for the freedom of all men, his indignation at the injustice of slavery, the planning of his bold rebellion, and his thoughts while facing his own death.

The performances will take place outdoors beside the tennis courts near Picnic Shelter #1. Those planning to attend should bring a blanket or chair for seating. Signs will be posted to direct visitors to the parking area and performance site. In case of inclement weather, performances will be postponed.

The Friends of Bryan Park is a non-profit resident group founded in 1994 to protect and improve the park. The group works closely with Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities and has organized the park’s centennial celebration, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 25, from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call 804-646-5733.