By Nicholette Carlson
WARSAW — Warsaw Parks and Recreation Department partnered with downtown businesses to continue to engage the community while encouraging them to get outdoors and be active.
While COVID put a damper on many events and programs last year, Sheila Wieringa, recreation director, continued to put together programming that included take home kits and videos to go along with an activity. This month she was thrilled to bring back a new spin to a popular summer activity. During the summer, the department held a scavenger hunt with close up pictures of sculptures or buildings around Warsaw. Once an individual or family discovered the location, they could send a photo of them next to it to the parks department.
“It’s just another version of that and that went over really well,” Wieringa stated. In March it became a leprechaun hunt.
The leprechaun hunt began March 1 and went through March 17. Leprechauns were placed in the front windows of more than 30 participating downtown Warsaw businesses. Community members were encouraged to get out and find the leprechauns at each of the businesses, take a selfie with the leprechaun and send it in to the parks department.
With upcoming plans for events around Easter, Memorial Day and then summer, Wieringa thought this would be the perfect time for another scavenger hunt, particularly with the weather starting to warm up. It is also the perfect way for family and friends to adhere to safety guidelines while still getting outdoors to do something together. “It just gives people something to look forward to,” she commented.
The best thing about the scavenger hunt is it is all inclusive. Participation costs nothing except some time hunting for leprechauns. Wieringa mentioned they had already received more than 100 photos from families and knew of at least six families participating who were sending in multiple photos throughout the hunt.
In planning the leprechaun hunt, Wieringa also met with Cindy Dobbins with Buffalo Street Emporium to see if local businesses would be interested in participating. Dobbins remarked, “I was really quite thrilled the parks department reached out to downtown merchants.” Wieringa got a list of businesses from the Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce and she and other members of the parks department went door to door asking each business to participate.
The business then got to hide the leprechaun in the front of their building and choose their own design.
Dobbins was glad to see families out and about together participating in the scavenger hunt while also making people more aware of downtown businesses. She looks forward to possible future opportunities working in collaboration with the parks department.
Wieringa has been glad to see this program encouraging the community to get outdoors and get moving. She is excited to be able to help get people outdoors to “have some fun but still stay safe.”