By Jordyn Grzelewski
The snow has subsided, and the temperature is creeping upward.
Spring wildflowers are blooming.
Animals that were absent all winter are coming out of hibernation.
And Mill Creek MetroParks is gearing up for an eventful season. Here’s what the park has in store for visitors now that spring has arrived:
The MetroParks’ spring events kick off the weekend of April 8-9, when two of the park’s major annual events take place.
The Farm Animal Baby Shower is scheduled for Sunday, April 9.
“The farm has been closed all winter, and we’ve been giving birth to some baby goats and baby piglets,” said Carol Vigorito, MetroParks recreation and education director. “After that date, the barn will be open for people to come and see the babies.”
Another seasonal facility, Lanterman’s Mill, also will open in April. The mill will be open weekends in April, then Tuesday-Sunday beginning in May.
Daffodil Weekend – when the colorful flowers are on display at Fellows Riverside Gardens, and in bloom at Daffodil Meadow – also is scheduled for April 8-9. The Gardens will offer guided walks that focus on Fellows’ daffodil collection. The park also will offer daffodil-themed trolley tours.
Throughout the season, the popular trolley tours will offer Spring Rides and Nostalgia Tours.
Plus, “There’s a wide range of hikes that focus on everything from the spring wildflowers to learning a little bit about the seasonal changes,” Vigorito said.
“It’s a great time,” she said. “The transition from the dull gray [of winter]. It’s energizing, too, because as the spring changes, you get that fresh air.”
Springtime at the Gardens means the arrival of lush, bright colors that were absent during winter.
“This spring, we expect approximately 38,000 bulbs to fill the gardens with orange, pink, yellow and red-hued cultivars of tulips and shades of yellow as daffodils fill the scene early on in the show,” Gardens director Andrew Pratt said.
Beginning in May, Fellows will kick off the new John and Doris Andrews Horticulture Certificate Program. The program aims to help participants improve their home-gardening skills. The first module, “The Fundamentals of Green Gardening,” has its first class May 2.
Pratt sees spring as a special time for the Gardens.
“I’ve always viewed spring as the rebirth of the Gardens, a time when the monochromatic winter landscape concedes itself to a cacophony of color as spring bulbs put on a show,” he said.
As the ground thaws, construction season is in sight.
This spring, the Metro-Parks planning department has two capital improvements on its docket.
One will add a wet playground to the Wick Recreation Area, a feature that has been missing for several years.
“What makes that project exciting is, when we did the master plan in 2010 for Wick Recreation Area, it proposed this four-component play area, but only three of the four areas were initially constructed,” said Steve Avery, MetroParks planning and operations director. “Now we’re to that year when ‘yet to come’ is now.”
Also in the works are some improvements to Volney Rogers Field. This spring, the tennis and basketball courts will be resurfaced, and two pickleball courts will be added.
“The existing courts have some significant cracking that affects play. The new courts will have new asphalt and new acrylic surfaces,” Avery said. “They’re going to be brand-new courts to play on.”
Both of those projects are slated for completion in June.
In preparation for the 2017 season, the golf department has 124 new golf carts. Also, the department purchased three new greens mowers and a Sandbunker Rake Pro for maintenance of sand traps, among other items. Some improvements to the fieldhouse also are underway, and all of the restrooms there recently were upgraded.
The cold, snowy weather over the last few weeks prevented Mill Creek Golf Course from its planned opening, but MetroParks golf director Brian Tolnar hopes to have better luck within the next couple of weeks.
“We’re hoping that April 1 will be that date, or somewhere close by,” he said.