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Event Success Stories - City of Stuart's recreation department

Florida’s Recreation Programs also felt the pain of COVID. Jessica Tharp, from the City of Stuart’s Recreation Department, sat down with me to discuss some of the processes they changed and the outlook she now has with events going forward.

“In Stuart, events seem to come back faster in our community due to it being a smaller and in the parks department our events are mainly outdoors.” said Jessica. They were unable to do events for approximately six to seven months in their city. Community Events and Green Markets started back up in November.

At some of their first events, they did have to look at processes and how to create ways to keep things safe for the people that were attending. They painted circles on the ground to create socially distanced areas for people to be in pods, like many organizations did to keep events happening outdoors. One of the main changes they made was for their races. The water stops changed from volunteers handing out cups of water to each runner to having a table of recyclable water bottles for each runner to grab or the runner could bring their own water bottle. They had a sponsor for water bottles to reduce costs. People understood the rules and trash was not a problem at the race.

Instead of having a party to celebrate the race and giving out prizes, ribbons and snacks during it, they created the swag bags for them to take with them when they completed the race. This allowed for safety and also reduced costs with limited sponsors this year.

One of the best practices she implemented was to go back to the basics. She looked at how to utilize the park to create events that people want. She reexamined her event space and made sure it would be safe and a place people wanted to come to. Jessica feels very optimistic for the future of events. People want to get back to life. She said, “We will only provide positive things for the future. The community is wanting the in-person events and is wanting to get back out there. People want to be outdoors. People are turning to parks to exercise and enjoy everything there is with being outside again.”

Jessica's advice to the FFEA Community: “Stay positive and do not give up! Make sure to look at all options for your events. People want to come out and the outlook is positive for the event future of Florida.”

Featured in this interview:

City of Stuart
121 SW Flagler Ave
Stuart, FL 34994

Phone: 772-288-5300

Email: jmchenry@ci.stuart.fl.us

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