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Painted hearts encourage residents to enjoy downtown parks while remaining socially distant

Painted hearts have popped up in two downtown parks recently, to encourage people to “love their parks” in a safe and physically distanced way.

The initiative celebrated two events, the Downtown Employee Appreciation Week that was hosted by Milwaukee Downtown BID #21, and the Love Your Parks campaign organized by Milwaukee County Parks.

“Each year, Downtown Employee Appreciation Week draws in thousands to our downtown parks for free lunches and office challenge games,” said Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown BID #21. “While this year’s event reflected health and safety guidelines, we found new ways to express our gratitude to downtown’s 93,000 employees and 30+ acres of parks and green spaces, especially with our new social distancing hearts at Cathedral Square Park and Pere Marquette Park.”

A recent survey from the National Parks & Recreation Association found that 82% of those surveyed agreed that parks and recreation are essential and that parks impact their decision on where to live.

“We know that Milwaukee residents really need their parks and trails – particularly during this time of pandemic – and usage has skyrocketed over the spring and summer,” said Guy Smith, Executive Director of Milwaukee County Parks.” Right now though, our parks are in desperate need of some love too. These painted hearts are another fun way to bring attention to our Love Your Parks campaign.”

Parks spending freezes resulting from the pandemic, along with years of required department budget cuts, have greatly impacted Parks staffing levels, service levels, and basic operations. Parks faces historic low staff and funding levels, along with a backlog of deferred maintenance needs.

That is why the Parks need public support now more than ever. The Love Your Parks campaign asks Milwaukeeans to share why they love their parks, by posting social media messages with the hashtag #loveyourparksmke. Parks also asks people to micro-volunteer by becoming a Brew Hero, and consider becoming a founding member of the newly formed nonprofit Milwaukee Parks Foundation.

The Love Your Parks campaign website includes information on how to do all a variety of things things, including: share personal stories about why parks matter, volunteer, and donate to the Milwaukee Parks Foundation.

© Photo

Gabe Yeager

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