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July declared Recreation Month in Ceres
City Council extols community benefits of Recreation programs
Cambria and Traci
City recreation programs include the annual Christmas Tree Lane, which is organized by Recreation Supervisor Cambria Pollinger (left) and Recreation Manager Traci Dayton Farris. In the center are Santa and Mrs. Claus played by Yvette and Ken Lane. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The city of Ceres Recreation Division was heralded at last week's Ceres City Council meeting where July was declared as National Parks & Recreation Month in Ceres by Mayor Chris Vierra.

In his proclamation, Vierra detailed that city recreation programs "foster human development and provide positive alternatives for children and youth during non-school hours, to reduce crime and mischief and by helping children and youth develop and grow into healthy and productive adults."

The proclamation was followed by a short presentation by recreation manager Traci Dayton Farris and recreation supervisor Cambria Pollinger. The two detailed how Ceres "recreates" through a myriad of programs.

Farris runs the city's summer aquatics program and noted that over 1,200 participants are affect while 14 are employed. The program includes swimming lessons, junior lifeguard camp, water polo camp, water aerobics, aquatic camp and open swim sessions.

Concerts in the Park, said Pollinger, have been going on 28 years and were established by then Mayor Barbara Hinton.

"It's one of the last free things we offer our community," said Pollinger. "We see approximately 300 people each Tuesday and it is a committee run event and we collaborate with different departments, the Chamber of Commerce and a lot of our community service groups."

Specialty classes offered at the Ceres Community Center and other locations include gymnastics, dance, summer camp, ceramics, cooking, Music & Me, Boomer Girl workouts and CPR.

"We have classes for ages six months all the way up to 106," said Farris. "We don't care how old you are; we'll find a class for you."

Sports programs operated by the city department include Tiny Tots Baseball, which involves the Ceres firefighters as mentors and coaches, yoga, basketball, volleyball clinics, British Soccer camp and more to provide opportunities for over 1,000 children.

The Halloween Festival, going strong for over 30 years, used to be held at Smyrna Park but is now held at the Community Center.

"We literally use every room here," Pollinger told the council. "We see about 1,500 people coming through the building. It's completely free and it's a safe alternative for our families and community."

The annual Ceres Christmas Festival, held the first Saturday of each December, is also a free event to kick off the opening of Christmas Tree Lane. This year will mark the 28th year of the festival and 54th year of Christmas Tree Lane. The city sets up trolley rides, performances by local groups, and fun things for the kids like pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, crafts, face painting and refreshments.

"Recreation (Division) is really proud to kind of have a hand that is offered here in the community," said Farris. Those collaborations include selling pink T-shirts for breast cancer awareness through the Ceres Fire Department, hosting Arbor Day at a Ceres school every year, and the Ceres Youth Commission puts on its own activities with the city's help. Recreation staff also helps at Ceres Relay for Life, Love Ceres and National Night Out. During the holidays they also help coordinate food collection and distribution through the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children.