The world’s largest soft-drink manufacturer has thrown down the gauntlet in a national online campaign to promote and reward America’s most popular parks. In response, Mahoning Valley residents should accept the challenge with their characteristic can-do gusto to benefit Mill Creek MetroParks, a first-rate community jewel.
Specifically, Coca-Cola is in the midst of its “Take It To The Park” online voting drive to raise awareness of the importance of parks to physical fitness and to identify America’s favorite park. The top vote-getting park will receive a $100,000 recreation grant for improvements, and the top runners-up also win sizeable monetary rewards. As of Tuesday, Mill Creek Park ranked ninth out of 10,342 participating American parks with about 11,000 votes.
Those results are good – but not nearly good enough.
Mill Creek lags the leading Veterans Memorial Park in Moore, Okla., by about 290,000 votes. As the campaign enters the home stretch this weekend, Valley residents have many good reasons to take a few seconds out of their day once each day through Sunday to log onto coke.com/parks to vote for Mill Creek. (Bonus daily votes are available at MapMyFitness.com or the FourSquare app.)
FIVE GOOD REASONS TO VOTE
Need some added reinforcement to do so? Here are five solid reasons to vote early and often over the next five days:
1.The park has won the bragging rights that come with the reward. Its 4,400 well maintained acres of public lands and facilities in seven townships and three cities awe tens of thousands of visitors a year with its bounty of natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Too, the leaders of Mill Creek MetroParks have worked tirelessly over the years to preserve, protect and enhance the park’s natural assets.
2. The park and the community can benefit from the financial reward. Losses of property-tax revenue combined with recent $95,000 local-government cuts have contributed to the park’s tight budgeting this year. That means many worthy improvement projects have been sidelined.
3. Your vote will help strengthen the noble goal of the Coke campaign, namely to raise awareness of the value of American park systems, particularly for exercise, and the need for Americans to actively use them to help reduce the shamefully high obesity rate in the U.S.
4. Your vote will strengthen the Mahoning Valley’s reputation as a national leader in galvanizing community support for a terrific cause. Who can forget the excitement of last year’s nationwide drive sponsored by the Walmart Foundation, in which the Youngstown-Warren area took first place and won $1 million to fight hunger in the community in a similar online voting campaign?
5. Your vote will reinforce the park’s reputation as a source of personal and community pride deserving of nationwide acclaim.
In short, Mill Creek MetroParks has enriched our lives and our Valley for more than 100 years. It has more than earned our collective communitywide vote of confidence