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Celebrate local parks on July 28

Don Pidd talks about the blacksmith's workshop inside a building donated by the California department of Forestry from Antelope Valley at the San Benito County Historical Park. The county is hosting a park's month celebration at the end of July.

The inaugural San Benito County Parks Celebration is July 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the San Benito County Historical Park, in Tres Pinos.

The county parks and recreation commissioners have been planning an afternoon of activities for local residents that will promote all the parks in San Benito County while familiarizing families with the offerings at the San Benito County Historical Park. The timing coincides with National Parks and Recreation month in July.

Kids have a chance to highlight their month-long adventures at local parks by taking a photograph with Bennie Benitoite, the newly unveiled mascot for county parks, or drawing a picture of their favorite park for a contest. The artwork will be on display at the celebration July 28.

Don Pidd, who serves on the parks and recreation commission as the Historical Park representative, said a committee of four members was formed in January to plan the events.

It coincides with the eighth annual Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Show, but there is a long line up of activities for families. In addition to the gas engine and tractor show, there will be an antique car display, a community garden display, the park art and photo show along with other activities.

“We talked about it last year,” said Janelle Cox, a county management analyst who works with the county parks and recreation commission. “We were having Parks and Recreation month and we thought about how to celebrate. So this year we decided to do an event to culminate the month.”

Cox said families can check in when they arrive and they will get a flier that guides them on a scavenger hunt through the Historical Village. They can complete such activities as visiting the school house to see how many desks are inside, along with other refurbished buildings at the park.

There will be a stage with performances from health-related organizations, such as those that promote Zumba or kickboxing, as well as music. One of the highlights of the day will be a flash mob dance at 12:30 p.m., where everyone in attendance will be invited to learn a simple dance they can perform as a group.

“What we are trying to do is events everyone can participate in,” Cox said.

Tying in with the Historical Park’s theme, the committee is planning some Victorian-era games that will get kids active. They might include sack races, two-legged races and old-time tug of war.

Representatives from both private and nonprofit parks and recreation groups will be on hand to highlight all there is to do in San Benito County, including Hollister Hills, the San Juan State Historic Park and Pinnacles National Monument.

“We are still trying to get more groups together,” Pidd said. “We want to promote the activities we have here.”

The Outdoor Club members from San Benito High School and advisor Jim Ostdick will participate by teaching kids about the importance of keeping parks clean.

The afternoon will allow residents to take a look at the handiwork of Spencer Taylor, who recently took the oath of Eagle Scout after completing a project at the park. Taylor created a history trail that draws people from the main parking area at the park, toward the Visitor’s Center, where they can check in with Pidd to get a tour of the Historical Village.

Taylor worked with members of Boy Scout Troop 436 to create a 4×5-foot history trail head sign, 13 display posts, 15 2 x3-foot trail sign frames and 75 number signs. He raised the money for the project or requested donations of materials. Donors to his project included Sean Miller, of Iron Horse Workshop, Ace Hardware, McKinnon Lumber, Hollister Paint, Salinas police officers and the Hollister Exchange Club. He and his volunteers started the project in August and finished in November.

Taylor attended a History Trail dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony on June 23, when he also took his Eagle Scout oath.

Pidd said the project shares more about the history of San Benito County with visitors and will serve to lead them from the grassy picnic area at the Historical Park to the Visitor’s Center that opened last year.

Pidd and Cox said the day is a way to promote local parks, but also to show families how kids can get active outdoors.

Residents can pick up a brochure about local parks that has a drawing of Bennie Benitoite at the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce, the County Administration Office, the Historical Park Visitor Center, the Hollister Community Center or the San Benito County Free Library. Kids can use space inside the brochure to draw picture for the art contest or they can take a photograph of themselves with the drawing of Bennie Benitoite that is on the back of the brochure. There are boxes in each location above for children to return the photo and drawings for the contest. The deadline for submission is July 23.