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From orienteering to hiking trails, June 8 is Get Outdoors Day

School's out for the summer and the kids are already getting antsy. Or maybe you're looking to unplug from whatever technology you're typically tethered to — even if it's just for a few hours. Go for it.

Cast a fishing line from the river's edge. Go for a walk through the woods. Get that heart pumping with a jog around the bases, or simply kick back on an open blanket and relax.

This weekend presents the opportunity to do all that and more, as three Pasco County parks invite all to join in an array of fun and educational activities meant to suit almost anyone's style.

It's all to celebrate Saturday's fifth annual National Get Outdoors Day. The event is held in approximately bout 100 parks throughout the United States — and for the first time locally at Crews Lake Park in Shady Hills; Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey; and Withlacoochee River Park in Dade City.

"It's family friendly and it's free," said Pasco County Parks and Recreation supervisor Alex Fasano, adding that the standard $2 parking fee will be waived for the day at all three parks.

The national event promotes fitness and wellness, Fasano said, but also offers the opportunity for locals to see the various amenities Pasco parks have to offer: bike and nature trails as well as for horseback riding, ballfields, volleyball courts, fishing piers, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, playgrounds and more.

The three sites chosen for the inaugural event showcase different areas of the county, and are unique in their everyday offerings as well as what will be happening on Saturday, Fasano said.

"Each park's supervisor has come up with a different day of activities," he said. Think evening stargazing at Jay B. Starkey Park, bio-diversity investigation at Withlacoochee River Park and the chance to take a ride on a scaled-down train at Crews Lake Park.

David Jay, the site supervisor at Crews Lake, said he has been keeping his workers busy with a variety of preparations such as pressure washing an 80-foot-long outdoor pavilion for a sidewalk chalk activity and figuring out how to protect the gopher turtle eggs that had been laid precariously close to a walking trail.

"We're hoping for a good turnout — enough to get a kickball tournament going," he said, adding that there will be the opportunity to catch sight of some cool wildlife on one of the guided nature tours being offered. "Everything will be ready: the swings, the ball courts, the nature trails, everything."

Michele Miller can be reached at miller@tampabay.com.

. If you go

Saturday's Get Outdoors events in county parks

Crews Lake Park: 16739 Crews Lake Drive, Shady Hills, (727) 861-3038.

• 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nature walks, volleyball, free throw contest, train tours, chalk it up activity and free books (while supplies last) provided by the Pasco Hernando Early Learning Coalition.

Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd., New Port Richey, (727) 834-3247.

• 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Special activities include orienteering (a competitive form of land navigation), nature walks, solar viewing, bird walk and stargazing.

Withlacoochee River Park, 12449 Withlacoochee Blvd., Dade City, (352) 567-0264.

• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Orienteering, reptile awareness, biology diversity and solar viewing.

For information: pascocountyfl.net.

For additional information about National Get Outdoors Day, visit nationalgetoutdoorsday.org or see its Facebook page.

From orienteering to hiking trails, June 8 is Get Outdoors Day 06/04/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 3:17pm]
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