By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
City recreation gears up for a full return
• New events like Easter egg scavenger hunt planned by the city
Joey Chavez outside CCC
Joey Chavez is new on the job as Recreation Manager and full of enthusiasm to expand city programs and events. The Ceres Community Center, he reported, is brimming with activity. - photo by Jeff Benziger

With a relatively fresh staff coming out of the pandemic, Ceres Recreation programs are alive and well and in full swing, new Recreation Manager Joey Chavez reported to the Ceres City Council last week.

Chavez joined the city and has a relatively new staff with three of the four employees new to the staff in the last six months. Katie Lemberg is the recreation supervisor and Traci Ferguson is the recreation coordinator. Another recreation coordinator, Crystal Aguilar, has been on staff for six years.

“We’re fairly new here but we’ve been doing a lot in this past six months, piecing everything together, bringing in new programs to the area, being involved in a lot of special committees,” said Chavez.

The city also has seven part-time staff members to assist in rentals of city facilities, such as the Ceres Community Center and the American Legion Hall. As things return to normal and the return of programs that had been cancelled due to COVID, Chavez is now recruiting for 10 to 12 seasonal part-time employees to run the city’s aquatics program and three to five to run the summer camp program.

The Recreation Department has several basic functions: providing classes and programs to the community, oversee the rentals of facilities, and the use of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park for soccer competitions, aquatics and special events.

The department has youth sports programs and is gearing up to bring back senior programs and possibly offering senior meals at the Community Center on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The city is talking to Anthem Blue Cross about partnering for senior activities.

The staff is also planning for the summer Concerts in the Park series. They will be held Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Whitmore Park. Food will be available for purchase.

“I believe we have all six weeks already locked in so I think that’s going to be very successful this year,” said Chavez.

He reflected on last Halloween’s Trunk or Treat event which he believes drew an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people.

“It was huge, very successful.”

His staff also changed up the Ceres Christmas Festival last December with a Costa Fields’ based vendors’ faire in addition to visits with Santa and the Christmas parade down Christmas Tree Lane.

A new event coming up will be the Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt at Costa Fields on Sunday, April 10 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“That’s a new event; we’re kind of excited in doing that one,” Chavez told the council. “I know it’s been talked (about) in the past but it’s never been followed through. We are going to … make that happen.”

The team will also be working with the Ceres Street Faire Committee to assist in that event, set for May 7-8.

The Recreation Department is also trying to strengthen its community partnerships, including the Ceres Lions Club, Ceres Rotary Club, and Big Valley Christian Church which rents a portion of the center Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays.

In the winter and spring Community Center programs, the city offers:

• Virtual Driver’s education available online;

• Youth dance classes on the weekend;

• STEM and robotic classes;

• Zumba classes for those 55 and older, offered Tuesdays and Thursdays;

The city intends to bring back the youth basketball program next fall and the flag football program in the spring, as well as all sports camps in the spring and summer.

Chavez said the city contracts to conduct tennis classes offered at Ceres High and at Central Valley High Schools.

Pitch, Hit & Run classes will be offered May 21 through major league baseball at Costa Fields.

Summer sports and aquatic programs will run June through August.

“Our summer will be really busy, tied up, everyone, all of us.”

He also wants to bring forth a co-ed adult softball tournament to compete with surrounding cities.

Chavez also continues to be charged with making the Community Center, which is busy with events all year, more profitable with rentals. Since it was constructed, the center has operated at a deficit.

The city also generates money be renting out park shelters and the American Legion Hall at Ninth and Lawrence streets.