HighLights eNewsletter
Broward County > Parks and Recreation > Highlights eNews
April 2014
Recreation. Preservation. Education.
Find Shelter - At a Broward County Park
More than half a million people a year use picnic shelters or other meeting facilities in Broward County parks. Whether you’re planning a birthday party, wedding or reception, holiday gathering, family reunion, or large corporate or association function, there’s a park to accommodate your needs.

Our 20 regional parks and nature centers offer more than 110 shelters, with capacities ranging from 20 to 400+, as well as a variety of other facilities, including two gazebos, three outdoor amphitheaters, and several conference and meeting rooms. Our neighborhood parks also have community centers available for rental. All shelters have picnic tables, and most include grills. Amenities at indoor facilities vary, with some providing fully equipped catering kitchens. Certain parks may also provide audiovisual equipment.

picnic shelter at Vista View Park

The same spaces used for meetings and other functions can be “dressed up” for parties and such special occasions as weddings and receptions. Once you’ve selected a room that’s the right size for your event, the only limit is your imagination. We’ll provide the chairs and tables (various sizes and shapes are available) – the rest is up to you. Add some basic tablecloths and a few streamers for a simple look, or go all out with elegant centerpieces, fancy tablecloths, and other theme décor for more dramatic effects. Either way, it’s your party at the park, so express yourself. Our knowledgeable park staff may also be able to provide advice regarding caterers and other County-approved vendors.

There is a weekend and holiday gate entrance fee at most regional parks. Nominal fees are also charged for reserving picnic shelters and meeting rooms based on the size of the facility. Early reservations are recommended, especially for major holidays when the parks are open. There are also separate usage fees for some special park facilities.

For fees and other information about meeting in a Broward County park, call the park of your choice, or visit Broward.org/Parks. You can now also book picnic shelters and pavilions and indoor rental facilities online.

Going Native
Broward County Parks has a long history of both educating people on the importance of native plants in their home landscapes, and making the right kinds of plants available for purchase. This month there are two Native Plant Sales, one at Secret Woods Nature Center on Saturday, April 5, and another at Fern Forest Nature Center on Saturday, April 26. Both are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vendors will be on site, and there will be gardening information available and other activities going on. Admission is free.

wild coffee plant

Secret Woods also hosts the monthly meeting of the local chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, on the second Wednesday of the month from 7 to 9 p.m. This month the meeting falls on April 9.

For more information, call Fern Forest (accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42) at 954-357-5198 or Secret Woods (Route #6) at 954-357-8884.

Where the "Cooper" in Cooper City Came From
Every year Cooper City celebrates the man who was instrumental in developing the city. Morris Cooper was a Russian-born businessman who, in the late 1950s, helped transform a few acres of orange grove and cattle land into the community that today bears his name. This year’s Founder’s Day, the 55th annual one, returns to Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome on the afternoon of Saturday, April 26, after a morning of activities (including a parade) elsewhere in the city.

The Brian Piccolo part of the day starts at 1 p.m. with a car show and ends with fireworks at 9 p.m. In between there will be baseball games featuring the Cooper City Optimist All-Stars, an arts and crafts show, food booths, bingo, children’s activities, a BSO expo, a youth free-throw contest, and a concert.

For more information, call the Cooper City Recreation Department at 954-434-4300, ext. 233, or visit CooperCityFL.org. Brian Piccolo’s regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect.

Spring Has Sprung
Celebrate the season with a free Spring Fling Dance, on Friday, April 18 at the Sunrise Civic Center in Sunrise (10610 W. Sunrise Blvd.). The event, for individuals ages 18 and up with developmental disabilities, runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and will include deejay music, dancing, socializing, and refreshments. Preregistration is required at least a week in advance.

For more information, contact the Parks Special Populations Section at 954-357-8170 or SpecialPopulations@broward.org.

Positively Reptilian

Reptiles get a bad rap sometimes, but not at Broward County Parks, where we’re committed to educating the public about these strange, fascinating creatures. This month Secret Woods Nature Center offers its regularly scheduled Wonderful Reptiles program, from 10 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 19. The free program, for all ages, invites participants to gain greater familiarity with some of the native reptiles that call South Florida and Secret Woods home.

green anole lizard

Then, on Sunday, April 27, Fern Forest Nature Center hosts a Nature Lecture: Snakes, from noon to 1 p.m. A $5 donation to the Fern Allies volunteer group is requested for the lecture, which is followed by a question-and-answer session. There will be live animals used for the presentation, although the public will not be allowed to handle them.

For additional information, call Secret Woods (accessible via Broward County Transit Route #6) at 954-357-8884 or Fern Forest (Routes #31 and #42) at 954-357-5198.

Walks on the Wild Side
Choose from a variety of nature-related hikes and walks this month:

Well-behaved canines are welcome at all our regional parks (on six-foot leashes, of course), but it’s rare for them to be invited to a Doggie Egg Hunt. That’s what Easterlin Park will host on Saturday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to noon. The dogs will still need to be on leashes for the egg hunt, and an adult 18 or older must accompany each dog at all times. You’ll also need to bring your pup’s proof of current rabies vaccination to participate, and you’re responsible for cleaning up after your pooch. Broward County Animal Care and Adoption will be on site with adoptable pets, and other vendors will also be on hand. The fee is $5/dog, plus the park’s regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free). For more information, call the park at 954-357-5190.

Wining and Dining
The fourth annual Deerfield Beach Wine & Food Festival will be on Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, at Quiet Waters Park. Wine connoisseurs, food aficionados, and adventurous novices will be able to sample dozens of artisan wines, craft beers, and gourmet food from South Florida’s top chefs. The event also includes cooking demos, live music, and a retail market. The theme is “A Blue Wave Affair.” Highlights include:
  • VIP Vineyard Party (Friday, 6-10 p.m.)
  • Vineyard Party (Friday, 7-10 p.m.)
  • VIP Grand Tasting (Saturday, 5-10 p.m.)
  • Grand Tasting (Saturday, 6-10 p.m.)

Ticket prices vary by activity, and advance tickets are required. Call 561-338-7594, or visit DeerfieldBeachWineAndFoodFestival.com. The park’s regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect on Saturday.

SWIM Central
SWIM Central is the Broward County Commission's primary resource and referral service for available swim programs in cooperation with various cities and nonprofit organizations. Call 954-357-SWIM (7946).


                                         SWIM Central logo


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Quote of the Month
"To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." - French writer Anatole France (1844-1924)