‘Pop Up’ Park Initiative Attracts Families to County’s Urban Parks

Rock-climbing walls, campfires scheduled in downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda areas


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Via Montgomery Parks

Want to climb a rock wall in downtown Silver Spring? Or play a game of jump rope in Bethesda?

Montgomery County Parks is ramping up a program that temporarily adds new attractions such as climbing walls and traditional childhood games to the county’s urban parks to entice more families to use them.

The “Pop Up in Montgomery Parks” initiative brings portable outdoor equipment including the rock-climbing walls, giant board games and bicycle pump tracks to parks in urban neighborhoods. The program is especially targeted at parks in the urban areas of Silver Spring and Bethesda, which are more compact and offer fewer amenities than their suburban counterparts, according to Susan Stafford, marketing and public affairs manager for Montgomery Parks.

Several pop-up events are scheduled throughout July. More events are planned for August, and the department hopes to continue the programming for the foreseeable future, according to Stafford. She said the parks department has previously scheduled pop-up park events on a sporadic basis, but the program really took off in December under its current director, Kokia Tarik.

“People are looking for something fun to do in their free time. But in the process, something else happens—they build community, they re-engage with their neighbors, they learn new ways to use the parks,” Tarik said in a press release promoting the program. “Tailoring activities for specific locations is one way to help strengthen our connections in communities.”

Other “Pop Up” activities recently organized by Tarik include “Touch a Truck,” which provides kids with the opportunity to explore construction equipment like backhoes and bucket trucks. Over 200 people came out to Wall Park in Rockville earlier this year to take rides and climb on the equipment, according to the release.

Tarik schedules the events and is frequently on-hand at the events to help operate the equipment. She has gotten to know a number of families that regularly show up for her events, and attendance has been strong, according to the department.

The programs are open to all ages, though the rock climbing wall has a 250-pound limit, and the pump track is suitable for riders comfortable on a bike.

Pop Up events in Bethesda and Silver Spring scheduled for July include:

Rock wall climbing

  • Acorn Urban Park in Silver Spring from 4 to 6 p.m. July 13; and

  • Ellsworth Urban Park in Silver Spring from 4 to 6 p.m. July 29.

Campfire and snacks

  • Evans Parkway Neighborhood Park in Silver Spring from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 10; and

  • North Four Corners Park in Silver Spring from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 24.

Bicycle pump track

  • Fairview Road Urban Park from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 14, 17, 23 and 28.

“Pop Up recess” (includes playground classics such as giant board games, balls and jump ropes)

  • Caroline Freeland Urban Park in Bethesda from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 6 and July 25;

  • Ellsworth Urban Park in Silver Spring from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 18;

  • Evans Parkway Neighborhood Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 20;

  • Elm Street Urban Park in Bethesda from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 22; and

  • Acorn Urban Park in Silver Spring from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 30.

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