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One of the altered events for the Derby Recreation Commission in 2020 was the Halloween Hullabaloo. That included a drive-thru event in which families could wear their costumes, including this young Captain America, to a stop near the DRC.

Plan A, B and C took on a new meaning for Derby Recreation Commission programming through 2020. It’s a team that typically thrives in maximizing class size, programming opportunities and community outreach.

Looking back on the nine and a half months since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Director of Programs Vanessa Buehne understandably sighs at recalling what did or didn’t happen in her world. She said she is still digesting some of what occurred, but is also proud of how they adapted in an ever-changing health crisis.

It led to numerous cancellations of special events with some slight adjustments to its popular Halloween Hullabaloo.

The DRC cancelled 17 events, including the grand opening of the overhauled Hubbard Arts Center. While some of this might be able to jump back in 2021, Buehne said she is proud of how her team ran with the changes of the previous year.

“We’re really proud of our team being resilient, imaginative and flexible,” Buehne said. “I told [DRC Superintendent Chris Drum] recently that we did things that we had never done had we not been in this position.”


Added Programs

Christmas in the Park has been a Derby staple, but it, too, was forced to adapt. That led to its first-ever Zoom with Santa and phone calls with Santa. Buehne indicated in the January 2021 packet for the DRC board that 12 Zoom calls took place with 41 kids over a two-night period.

They also delivered Santa boxes to each family’s porch (two calls total) who did Santa calls.

“We put so much time and effort into our Christmas in the Park and our breakfast with Santa,” Buehne said. “They’ve been very successful. We hadn’t even thought of something like that. We got feedback from a parent who saw Santa through Zoom. She said it was such an amazing experience because the kids couldn’t believe how much Santa knew about them.”

If possible and safety protocols allow, Buehne indicated that they’re aiming at holding Easter Egg Hunts and their Kite and Bike Festivals in 2021.

“We are hopeful that we can offer some of our larger spring and summer events, with modifications if necessary,” she added.

NOTE: Stay tuned next week as we dive into specific programming and sports through the Derby Recreation Center, Oaklawn Activity Center and Hubbard Arts Center.