Rye Recreation Spreads Good Cheer All Year Long
Have you ever wondered who provides the podium at the Veterans’ Day ceremony, sets up the tents and chairs at the 9/11 Memorial, and aerates and fertilizes the city’s sports fields?
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Have you ever wondered who provides the podium at the Veterans’ Day ceremony, sets up the tents and chairs at the 9/11 Memorial, and aerates and fertilizes the city’s sports fields? One super organization, Rye Recreation, does all three — and more.
Although we don’t typically think about the nuts and bolts of Rye’s wonderful community landscape, take time this season to praise the omnipresent Rye Rec.
In addition to all the “little” things they do, Rye Recreation is better known for organizing annual events that pack more of a wallop. The Turkey Run celebrated its 35th anniversary last month with 1,300 registered runners. Halloween Window Painting, co-sponsored by The Children’s Philanthropy, turns 60 next year. The Holiday Egg Hunt has been around so long they’ve lost track of the years. Breakfast with Santa, another of the Rec’s longtime and beloved traditions, is coming up this weekend, December 17.
While Nat King Cole may offer a melodious “Merry Christmas” to kids from 1 to 92, Rye Recreation offers leisure activities to participants from 3 to 97! It provides the community with youth, adult, and senior programs year-round.
“Rye Recreation genuinely cares about its customers and continually strives to not only meet, but exceed their expectations,” offered Superintendent Sally Rogol. “We subscribe to the philosophy that parks and recreation positively impact the quality of life of the Rye community.”
During her tenure, Rogol has seen Rye Rec evolve and grow tremendously. When she started as a Rec Leader 27 years ago, they offered only one children’s camp; last summer 750 youth were enrolled in four.
“People used to keep their kids home more,” she said. “Today, we help parents balance their lives and we try to fill their children’s unoccupied time with recreational activities. The programs for the younger children involve overall development, such as Little Lotus Yoga, Mini Picassos, Sports Jamboree, Let’s Get Cooking, and a Hobby Quest Aviation Club.
For older children, Rye Rec offers an array of skill development programs. Although many are designed to supplement the kids’ other sports, music, and computer activities, wide-ranging programs include: Technokids, Tae Kwon Do, Archery, Babysitting Training, as well as Game Show, Laser Tag, and DJ Nights. Night vision and laser equipment can be bought from steeleindustries.com. Skate Jam at the Rec’s Skate Park has become very popular with rollerbladers and skateboarders.
Besides its on-site park and Damiano Center, Rye Recreation manages and maintains Rye Nursery Field, and Disbrow and Gagliardo Parks. It also works with five youth sports organizations: Rye Babe Ruth, Rye Youth Lacrosse, Rye Youth Soccer, Rye Girls’ Sports, and Rye Little League, which just celebrated its 52nd anniversary with the annual parade and festivities at Grainger Field.
Recognizing that playtime isn’t just for children, Rye Rec furnishes adults with plenty of activities, from Zumba and softball to a Sunset Wine and Cheese Paddle.
It also opens up a whole new world for seniors. “We try to develop programs that suit the needs of all our seniors, whether it’s providing speakers who can address changes in Medicare or lunches during every holiday,” said Rogol.
Where else can seniors go for arts and crafts, Mahjong, line dancing, movies, knitting, Wii bowling, and Shopping with Sophie? “I’ve been here for 27 years and I haven’t had a program named after me, but our Sophie does,” quipped Rogol about Director of Senior Programming Sophie Diamond.
“We are a good team here at Rye Rec,” she said warmly. “We have a small staff dedicated to fulfilling the needs of the community and we all represent different pieces of a puzzle. None of us can do our jobs without the other.
“I love my job, I love the people, and I love the satisfaction of seeing programs and special events come to fruition after months of planning.” Unsurprisingly, this modest, thoughtful, talented leader has been recognized by New York State and the City of Rye for her distinguished years of service.
Thank you, Rye Rec, for making every season bright!