Simpsonville
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Recreation
It doesn't matter whether you're a toddler or a senior citizen - in Simpsonville you'll find plenty of opportunities for fun and enrichment.

The city's recreational offerings include a packed calendar of events and plenty of space for fun outdoors at the city's six community parks and four mini parks. The city also boasts the impressive Activity and Senior Center as well as a community center suitable for functions ranging from birthday parties to weddings.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Robbie Davis says Simpsonville residents "do a lot of participating,"and he and his staff aim to give them plenty of chances to do just that.

The city's recreational opportunities have expanded greatly since the opening of the Activity and Senior Center in September 1998. The 35,000-square-foot building sits on approximately 10 acres and houses the Parks and Recreation Department's administrative offices, a double gymnasium, a single gym, a senior citizens' lounge, activity room, kitchen, concession area and fitness equipment.

Creating the center not only meant adding something new, it also represented an opportunity to preserve something old. The single gym is a restoration of the historic Woodside Mills gym, which was given to the city years ago, Davis says.

"It's all wood and absolutely beautiful,"he says, explaining that the wood floor and massive rafters make an impressive sight.

Getting the new building meant increasing opportunities and expanding the size of the Parks and Recreation Department staff. Four years ago, the department had three full-time people, Davis says, and now it has 11.

And even more growth and new opportunities are on the way. "We're in the process of building a new facility,"Davis says. Plans call for it to include a five-field baseball/softball complex with a control tower, multipurpose football/soccer fields, an outdoor inline hockey court, an 18-hole disc golf course, sand volleyball courts, nature trails, a nature center, a water attraction, playgrounds and picnic pavilions.

The city has purchased 80 acres of land for the complex, which will increase the city's parkland from the current 40 acres to 120 acres. Although completion of the new complex is a few years away, "it is a reality,"Davis says. "It's not a plan or a dream anymore."

He hopes to break ground in early spring for the as yet unnamed facility. Davis says officials plan to have a contest in the schools after groundbreaking to come up with a name.

The first phase of the project to be built will be the baseball and softball fields, since there is such demand for those. Davis says he expects the new park will allow the city to draw regional sports tournaments that will boost business in Simpsonville, as out-of-towners fill up hotels, restaurants and stores when they participate in tournaments.

Youth sports is a particularly important priority in Simpsonville especially the baseball and softball programs, which annually draw some 1,100 youths ages 4-18. With throngs of kids signing up each year, when ball season starts "we go seven days a week as hard as we can go,"Davis says.

"Other youth sports offered through the Parks and Recreation Department are football and cheerleading, which attract some 400 participants, and basketball, which also brings in approximately 400 kids,"Davis says.

The area has a strong youth soccer program offered through the Greenville Futbol Club, and the Golden Strip YMCA also offers an array of recreation opportunities.

John Schlansker, the YMCA's senior program director, says sports programs are offered for kids ages 4-17 as well as for adults. Soccer, baseball, basketball, flag football and cheerleading are offered for youths, and basketball, volleyball and softball are offered for adults.

The YMCA building offers weights, exercise machines, a full-sized competitive indoor swimming pool, steam room, sauna, aerobics area, a two-court basketball gym and field space for outdoor sports. Schlansker says the Y offers a variety of programs for all ages - from swimming lessons for infants to exercise for senior citizens. More information is available at www.ymcagreenville.org.

Woodside Mill Baseball Park


With parks, ball fields, golf courses and our new Senior Center, Simpsonville has plenty of activities for residents, both young and old. And, the list is growing... with a new recreational facility on the way!
The city's Parks and Recreation Department also makes senior citizens activities a priority. Davis says the city has a full-time senior coordinator who programs a range of activities including day trips, overnight excursions, fitness activities and more.

Besides sports and seniors activities, Simpsonville residents enjoy a variety of community events sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department. "We're starting to tap the market of non-athletic things,"Davis says.

One such event is the annual "daddy-daughter dance"on the Friday before Valentine's Day. "We pack our double gymnasium,"he says.

At the dance, you're apt to see little 3-year-olds standing in a chair to slow dance with their daddies as well as teen-agers and their dads out on the floor. Before the music begins, they're treated to a candlelight meal.

Don't worry: Moms and sons aren't left out. The department offers a mother-son dance complete with candlelight meal around St. Patrick's Day.

For Thanksgiving, an indoor turkey shoot is offered for kids 6 and older as well as adults. Prizes are given away to those with the best BB gun skills.

Santa takes center stage in Simpsonville during the Christmas season. The jolly old elf helps in the city's Spread the Joy program when he delivers sacks full of toys to needy children. He also makes a special visit for an annual breakfast every year, followed by the Reindeer Games, in which kids participate in all kinds of games and contests. Another fun program is the Santa hot line, in which St. Nick telephones Simpsonville kids to extend holiday greetings personally.

The future looks bright for recreational opportunities in Simpsonville. With a new recreational facility on the drawing board and a full slate of community programs and events, city officials are poised to meet the demands of a growing and active community.k Template

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