By Brett Yates
After a year of limited activities on account of Covid-19 precautions, the Rutland Recreation & Parks Dept. expects to offer a full slate of events and opportunities for fun this summer and fall.
“I just think it’s a great time to start announcing that, with the loosening of guidelines, we’re back,” Superintendent Kim Peters told the Rutland City Board of Aldermen on May 3. “We’ve been here, but we’re back.”
In 2020, the pandemic canceled sports leagues, parades, and outdoor music. But the state of Vermont, which aims to suspend all restrictions on gatherings beginning July 4, has already entered the second phase of its three-step reopening process, and Rutland Rec has kept close tabs while putting together its own schedule.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we’re not being a on state guidance,” Peters said.
Notably, this summer will see the return of the Seven to Sunset Concert Series, starting with the John Lackard Blues Band on June 23. Each Wednesday, a new band will play at Main Street Park’s gazebo. The Rutland City Band, which calls itself “the oldest municipally funded community band in the U.S.,” will take the stage each Sunday from July 4 through Aug. 22.
The swimming pool at White Memorial Park [Avenue B off Jackson Avenue] will open on June 12. “Last year, it was very scheduled. Every two hours, we’d clear the pool, and a new group would come in,” Peters remembered. “This year, we’re not putting any restrictions out there.”
The White Memorial Park Pool will once more host swim teams (ages 5-19, starting June 14) and group swim lessons (ages 3-15, starting July 9). No swim meets or group classes took place there last year.
According to Peters, Rutland adults have proven eager to pick up their softball bats again, as evidenced by the nearly 30 team registrations in the women’s, men’s, and coed leagues, whose practices have already begun. “The nice thing about baseball and softball is that [the state] did just release that you don’t need to wear masks as long as you can social-distance — only when you’re in the dugout,” Peters pointed out.
All of Rutland City’s parks are now open for rentals. “We’re getting calls and reservations every day,” Peters reported.
On April 12, Rutland Rec initiated a “soft reopening” of the Godnick Adult Center, which must abide by specific state guidelines for senior centers. Programming will increase gradually. Visitors must preregister for activities, which so far have included dancing, aerobics, and meditation in limited groups.
The indoor Rutland Recreation Community Center, which experienced a relatively brief closure last year, can currently host one guest per 100 square feet, according to state rules for spaces with visitors of uncertain vaccination status (an unlimited number of those proven to be fully vaccinated can be added to this number, but thus far, most organizations have refrained from asking for proof.) The third phase of Vermont’s reopening plan, expected to begin in June, will double that capacity.
After July 4, Rutland Rec will begin to plan Rutland City’s Halloween parade. Peters is “99% sure” that the massive event, which draws a large crowd, will happen this year.
“We’re really excited about spring and summer and reopening,” she said, “and especially the Halloween parade.”