by 4Squares Residential Group in Partnership with Judi 411
Summer is here, folks and the living is easy when you have as many recreational activities to choose from as we do here in Medford. We spent time with Kevin Bailey, Director of Medford Recreation to learn more about what’s new and what’s coming back in terms of summer programming.
Some featured guests have been lifelong Medford residents, while others are transplants to the community. Where do you fall on that spectrum?
I grew up in North Medford, playing at Carr Park and participating in the Medford Park League as a kid. Wright's Pond is what holds the most special memories for me. I walked my dog around Wright's Pond, and when I ran cross country in high school, my running route was typically around the pond area and in the Middlesex Fells.
Wright's is also where I took my first lifeguard class, which sparked my interest in recreation. I worked as a lifeguard at Wright's in the summer and worked at the high school during the school year at the Medford High School pool. Later, when I went to college, I'd return on weekends to supervise at the Medford High pool. I did it because it was fun, and then a friend told me I could become an aquatics director and make a living in the recreational field. I spent the early part of my career in aquatics management and later realized I wanted to expand my horizons into recreational management. When the opportunity came up to grow the Recreational Department here in Medford, it felt good to come home again and build year-round recreational programming for the community.
In some ways, I feel like Medford Recreation is Medford's best-kept secret. Tell us more about your role there and what programming the community can look forward to in the coming months.
Many people are familiar with the Recreation Department's involvement at Wright's Pond and swim lessons at Tufts pool. Still, a lot more programming is happening these days and expanding year-round. Not many recreation directors have the opportunity to grow a program from seasonal to year-round. I'm excited to share what we are up to for the Medford community.
One of the most popular programs has been pickleball, which takes place in the Recreation Center, located beneath the Chevalier Theatre on Forest Street, or what many locals know as "the old high school gym." We're also managing the LoConte Rink on Locust Street, and this summer, we will be offering indoor skating as another way to cool off in the heat. There are treasure hikes for toddlers and preschoolers, parkour for elementary kids, and summer movie nights for kids of all ages.
The two programs I'm most excited about bringing back are the Cardboard Canoe Race at Wright's Pond and Super Hero Sundae event at Tufts Park. The Canoe Race is a lot of fun, whether you are a participant or a spectator, and is a great way to mark our return to post-pandemic routine activities. And who doesn't love the opportunity to dress as a superhero AND have ice cream from Colleen's? There will be superheroes at the event, and we encourage children and adults to join in on the fun.
We'll also be hosting multiple half-day sports clinics over the summer in various sports, including lacrosse, street hockey, soccer, tennis, and ultimate frisbee.
Well, it sounds like no kid in Medford will be able to say they're bored this summer, that's for sure. What are some of your favorite hidden gems around Medford?
Well, as a North Medford kid, I was more familiar with the Middlesex Fells, but now as the Recreation Director, I've discovered the joy of Tufts Park. It's funny how a place across town can feel so new to someone, and I had no idea how big it was. There's, of course, the large outdoor pool, where swim lessons take place in the summer and a kiddie pool for the younger set. I was amazed at how far back the park goes from Main Street, the baseball field, all of it. So I would say Tufts Park for sure.
Another hidden gem is the bocce courts on Riverside Plaza behind Medford Housing Authority, a new Medford Rec development that many people don't know about. I encourage folks to check it out and learn a fun outdoor game that's withstood the test of time.
Finally, the Hormel Stadium area is another spot in Medford that I don't think many people know about because we tend to think of it as where the middle schools are and not much else. There are walking trails along the river, a couple of dog parks, and the community garden and baseball fields. It's a great area to go for a walk and watch boats on the river or at the boat docks, and you feel like you've enjoyed a little escape from life right in your own backyard.
If your best friend told you they were considering a move to Medford, what would you tell them?
Well, what I like about Medford is its diversity. You can meet people from all walks of life and different parts of the world. And of course, as a recreation person, you can't beat the open space we have here in all parts of town. Over in West Medford, there are the Upper Mystic Lakes and Dugger Park. You have a lot of biking and walking trails, and we also have many neighborhood parks. I've seen from other cities and towns where you have to hike to go over to a park, whereas in Medford, every neighborhood has at least one park for kids to play and for everyone to enjoy in some way or another.
Medford Recreation offers programming year-round for children, teens, adults, and families. Check out their website for activities and events and register for sports clinics and classes.
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