Create the Perfect Gathering Place

Parks are prime locations for gatherings of all kinds—from family reunions and weddings to smaller family outings and much more. You can improve your park, and at the same time attract more groups, by incorporating specific details as you plan various spaces. What's more, if your park is already built, you can simply add a few amenities here and there to make a big difference in the comfort level of guests gathering for fun, feasts and some family time.

Q: We'd like to make our park more attractive to groups like family reunions and other types of gatherings. What can we do?

A: Build it right, and they will come. This means you need to find the right mix of site furnishings and other comfort-making elements like shade to provide the perfect place for a picnic, a play date, a family gathering or other type of get-together.

Start by thinking about what you expect people to use the space for. If you're expecting lots of picnickers, you'll want to include picnic tables, garbage and recycling receptacles, at the very least. Make sure your receptacles are clearly marked, so patrons know what to throw where. You can use this as a chance to encourage recycling, but be sure to make clear what exactly can be recycled in your area.

Why not go all out and also incorporate grills and fire rings? A grill will let patrons enjoy cooking out in a beautiful location. A fire ring will allow visitors to gather and toast marshmallows and hot dogs as they enjoy the outdoors.

Be aware of drought conditions in your area. It might also be wise to include a hot ash receptacle for ashes from the grill. Many parks include them and require patrons to clean up before they leave.

Q: What else should we consider?

A: Think about your visitors' comfort level. If your park is shaded by many trees, you can probably just space the picnic tables evenly throughout the site you've chosen. But if your park is particularly sunny, you'll likely want to group your furnishings around shelters of varying sizes. Some agencies even let their parks work for them by collecting fees from patrons who wish to reserve shelters.

Also be sure to include spaces for large gatherings, as well as spots where just two, three or four people can be comfortable.


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