By Hannah Richardson
We might be nearing the end of our summer vacations, but this humid, southern heat doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. Natchitoches has several parks for residents to enjoy, and its visitors need to be careful to avoid overheating, especially during this current heat wave.
Open gym at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center is on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and is a good location for kids and young adults looking to stay active while also staying out of the sun. The City Pool is also located in Natchitoches City Park if looking for a way to stay cool while outside.
“As far as having cooling stations with bottles of cold water, we don’t have that in place at this time, but it’s been discussed,” said Kevin Warner, Director of Recreation and Parks. He said cooling stations have become very prevalent in surrounding cities and would look forward to seeing Natchitoches do the same. “We have pavilions at all of our parks that people can access and get out of the heat, but the playground equipment itself can get quite hot.” The equipment is checked regularly for maintenance, and they also rely on the public to report any faulty equipment they might come across. Warner mentioned they will soon bring the manufacturer to all of the city parks, so they can get a closer look at the equipment. “They may see something we don’t see, and give us a bigger picture on what we need to do,” he said.
Besides the smaller city parks, another place to exercise outdoors is at Parc Natchitoches, which has an outdoor walking trail. Keep in mind that certain parts of the trail are located under the shade of trees.
Warner also said a new restroom building, pavilion and playground equipment is currently in the works at Parc Natchitoches, and a third playground will be built near the batting cages. Funding has been provided by a grant, and should be completed by the end of the year.
The batting cages also provide shade for visitors at the Parc, and pavilions also provide cooling with fans and concessions provide drinks on weekends during games. August will see several athletic camps. Children can also participate in the fall ball league at Parc Natchitoches, register at www.playfallball.com. Fishing at the Parc pond, now stocked with hybrid catfish, bass and bream, is also available for visitors to enjoy.
At the MLK Recreation Center, summer basketball is just now wrapping up, with football and volleyball registration underway. “[Covid] didn’t slow down summer basketball,” said Warner. “It was very well received, being the first time we have done it in awhile. It gives children something to do in the summertime, in an air-conditioned and organized place.”
At the Parc, Warner said there is usually a CPR/First Aid certified person in place. There is also a defibrillator on site, but when in doubt, don’t hesitate and call 911. Warner recommends to pick your time of the day and to avoid the middle of the day around 4 p.m., which is usually the warmest. Find shade and take your walks early or late in the day, and remember to stay hydrated.