After a seemingly endless winter, outdoor activities especially planned for the elderly should be a welcome respite.The programs are arranged by the Maryland National Capital Area Park and Planning Commission in cooperation with other agencies.
Individuals, groups and clubs are invited to attend the summer activities at Watkins Regional Park in Largo.The program, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, will run from June 26 through Aug. 4. Activities will include arts and crafts, dance, drama, music, games, discussion seminars and nature activities such as bird watching, nature crafts, gardening or just leisurely hiking in the woods. There is no charge.
An announcement outlining the park program has been published in the Senior Citizen, a publication distributed to county elderly by the Prince George's Department of Services and Programs for the Aging.
Applications for the program should be made by June 13. Forms are available in libraries and at elderly housing sites. The application forms request information on interests, medical status, transportation needs and an address to use in case of an emergency.
Participants in the park activities should bring their own lunch; beverages and dessert will be provided. Senior citizen bus transportation will be scheduled from designated pick-up points to serve different areas on different days. Persons who can provide their own transportation are invited to attend every day. More information can be obtained by calling the coordinators, Julie Forker or Meryl Gross, 277-2200, ext. 386.
According to Gross, the program at Watkins Park has been popular, particularly for the elderly who have few opportunities to get outdoors. She hopes that the experience will provide activities that senior clubs, centers and homes can use to enrich their year-round programs.
It is possible to enjoy summer outings in the parks without attending specially arranged programs. Regional parks have facilities and staff to provide information and guidance.
Robert Park comprises an area of some 440 acres. It has an athletic area for sports such as baseball, tennis and archery. There are numerous picnic areas, one of which is specifically designated for senior citizens. Large groups, like senior clubs, can reserve space by calling the park office. Another attraction is a farm, which opens July 4, complete with animals, a blacksmith shop and tobacco press. Perhaps of nostalgic delight for seniors will be an chance to ride the original Cheaspeake Park carousel. Admission is 35 cents per ride.
One of the more popular facilities is the nature center, which has a variety of interpretive exhibits and a nature specialist. Nature trails are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and guides are available. Elderly persons, especially those ordinarily confined to close quarters, may find great satisfaction just strolling through the woods.
Louise F. Cosca Regional Park in Clinton comprises an area of 500 acres including a 14-acre lake. Boats - pedal and row - can be rented Memorial Day through Labor Day. There is year-round fishing, which requires the usual Maryland fishing license.
There is a nature center open year-round from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. The center has a special exhibit called Nature Through the Ages, tracing development from early times to the present and future. Live animals such as raccoons, rabbits, turtles and others are on display in cages. There also is a pond for display of a variety of fishes. Facilities include a nature trail. A nature slide show can be viewed on a regular schedule or by special arrangement for groups of visitors.
Cabin John Regional Park, a 525-acre area in Potomac is open from 10 a.m. to sundown, year round. It offers picnic areas, a nature center, trails and miniature train rides to delight accompanying grandchildren. A special feature is Noah's Ark, the indoor quarters for all types of farm animals. Evening concerts by military, concert and folk bands are conducted during mid-summer without charge.
Upper Rock Creek Regional Park in Derwood features Needwood Lake, 74 surface acres in size, for boating and fishing. State fishing licenses are available at the boathouse. The lake can be reached by taking Muncaster Mill Road (Rte. 115) to Avery Road, then right on Needwood Lake Drive and left on Beach Drive. A brochure describing the kinds of fish in Needwook and nearby Lake Bernar Frank is available at the boathouse. The brochure includes tips for successful fishing.
Of particular interest to seniors may be a ride on the stern wheeler, Needwood Queen. The Queen is expected to be in service by Memorial Day, from noon until one hour before sunset Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. on weekends and holidays. There is a charge of 35 cents per ride.
The park has picnic spots, nature tails and a nature center, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and holidays.
Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton offers a variety of recreational opportunities including games and horseback riding. Of special interest to seniors is Brookside Nature Center and trails and Brookside Gardens. The nature center has interpretive exhibits of flora and fauna and provides literature to help visitors understand and appreciate nature. On Saturdays and Sundays there are nature films. The center brochure lists 22 different trees, 10 shrubs, 12 field flowers, 32 woods animals and 59 different birds that can be seen in the park at various times of the year.
Brookside Gardens has 50 acres, all open to the public, which includes a formal garden, a trail garden, a rose garden, a fragrance garden, an aquatic garden and the Gude garden. The seasonal time-table calls for spring flowering bulbs, late March through April; azaleas and rhododendrons, late April until late May; annuals and perennials from May until frost, and chrysanthemums from late September until mid-October.
There also is a conservatory greenhouse with year-round displays of colorful annuals and perennials, lush green tropical trees and plants and a variety of haging plants. Special tours can be arranged for interested groups. There are horticulture programs, and resident staff members will answer questions about everyday gardening problems. Additional information can be found in the horticulture library.