July is celebrated each year for a lot of things — the annual observance of the Battle of Gettysburg, the annual fireman’s carnival held at the Gettysburg Rec Park and much, much more. But did you know that July is also the observance of National Park and Recreation Month? It’s been celebrated since 1985.

Why is National Park and Recreation Month important? All sorts of evidence points to the overall health benefits of parks as ways to encourage people to go outside and enjoy different activities.

Spending time outdoors reduces stress and has been shown to improve mental health. We all know that increased physical activity helps us maintain a good, healthy weight. And studies have shown that kids who are active actually do better in school.

So what can you do at the Gettysburg Rec Park to simply get outside? How about a simple walk on the Biser Fitness Trail? The trail has been newly marked with mileage markers so you can tell exactly how much ground you’ve covered. You don’t need to walk miles and miles, just a lap around the trail will do. The Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority (GARA) again thanks to the Biser Family for their continued support of the trail over the years.

Do you have a dog? Have you taken the dog to the dog park? The dog park is located at the south end of the park and is divided into sections; one for large dogs and one for small dogs. There are benches inside the dog park for the humans to sit on, but we’d encourage you to move around with your dog.

By the way, dogs are welcome to run free inside the dog park, but they must be kept on a leash when outside of it. We’d all like to think that our dog is the “best and most well-behaved dog ever,” but others don’t know that. Please keep your dog on a leash while in the rec park unless the dog is in the dog park.

You may have noticed some dirt and activity at the south end of the rec park. GARA has partnered with the Borough of Gettysburg to place fill in what has historically been a low area of the park. Once the fill has been placed and leveled out, GARA is hoping to add some new activities to this area that is now not useable. The rec park was originally built on land in the borough that was too wet for anything else, so this keeps that 60-plus-year-old tradition alive. Please let us know if you have any ideas for use of this new acreage.

As usual in this column, we’d like to remind you that the rec park doesn’t come cheap! From mowing the grass to maintaining the restrooms to a new roof for the Sterner Building to dealing with storm damage, maintaining the rec park is an expensive proposition. While we’re grateful for the on-going major support of the Borough of Gettysburg and Cumberland Township, we need the community’s financial support to keep up the great services and activities held at the rec park.

Please think about going to and clicking on the DONATE button. You’ll be taken to a PayPal page, and we’d welcome your contribution of any amount.

Jackie Dwyer is the director of the Gettysburg Area Recreational Authority.

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