Summer in City Parks

June 21, 1994

&TC A fascinating snippet of information culled by Yale University is that Baltimore has more parks and recreational facilities than any other American city of its size. This is swell news for those who like recreational activities and the great outdoors. The flip side, of course, is that such facilities are expensive to maintain.

A newly published 32-page tabloid lists this summer's parks and recreation activities. It underscores how many programs are available to Baltimore residents in more than 100 facilities.

There are walk-to pools at 16 locations, large park pools at five sites, 27 wading pools and two indoor pools. There are baseball and basketball competitions, softball tournaments, a number of camps and crafts programs and senior citizen activities. There is even a Metro Wheelchair Softball League. (Call 396-7931 for a copy of the guide.)

Few cities have as much varied park land as Baltimore.

The Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, in West Baltimore, is a 1,200-acre spread of meadows, wetlands and forests that are home to hawks, owls, deer, red fox, raccoon, beaver, opossums, turtles and numerous song birds. In contrast, Patterson and Druid Hill parks are huge, landscaped areas convenient to the city center. Numerous smaller parks dot the city, providing a quiet bench for reading or the soothing sound of a fountain.

Speaking of sounds, some of the most pleasing ones each summer are heard during the municipal concert series.

Baltimore is one of the few -- if not the only -- American city where the municipal government is still in the band business.

When the Bureau of Music was founded in 1860, its players provided for the city's music needs from oompah to opera. In 1916, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was established as an offshoot of the bureau's concert bands. (The symphony continued under city auspices until 1942).

In recent years, many of the Municipal Concert Band's players have been high-school music teachers, who play popular favorites in 12 concerts between June 30 and July 15. Baltimore's Big Band then takes over and plays jazz and dance music in eight appearances from July 17 to July 27.

It is not widely known, but the Baltimore City Charter decrees that "music shall be provided for the citizens of Baltimore." We urge taxpayers to take advantage of this service. After all, they have already paid for the tickets.

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