Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Upcoming Programs to Warm Up Your Winter!

Looking for something to do that will brighten an otherwise gloomy, cold winter day? The Park System can help with that! We have plenty of programs planned that will get you out of the house and learning something new or enhancing a skill you already have. Take a moment to check out these exciting and fun programs and events:

  • Polar Bear Hiking Series on Sundays, January 25-March 1 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. will take you to trails you may have never experienced in the Park System. Each session will visit a different park, such as Huber Woods Park, Tatum Park, Clayton Park and more! If there's snow we'll enjoy the fun of trying out our snowshoes! Pre-registration and fee are required. (Various Park System locations)
  • Seashore Open House on Sunday, January 25 from 1-4 p.m. gives a little bit of summer to a cold winter's day. Held at the Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park Activity Center, Long Branch you and your family will enjoy hands-on activities, aquatic animal displays and more. FREE!
  • "Split Pea" Cross-Country Ski Clinic on Thursday, January 29 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. will teach you the basics of cross-country skiing. Nature not providing us any snow? We'll be prepared with our ski mats! Pre-registration and fee are required. (Thompson Park, Lincroft)
  • Super Bowl Appetizers on Thursday, January 29 from 6-9 p.m. will get you prepared for your upcoming Super Bowl party by offering a variety of tasty recipes like Cheesy Wontons, Lime Infused Pulled Pork, Cheese Puffs and more! Pre-registration and fee are required. (Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck)
  • Sweetheart Clay Ornament on Friday, January 30 from 4-6 p.m. offers visitors a chance to make a special valentine for their sweetheart. Creations will be fired and ready for pick-up before Valentine's Day. FREE!
  • Bedtime Stories on Friday, January 30 from 6-7 p.m. offers families a fun evening to enjoy a snack while listening to a bedtime story. All ages are welcome as we wear our pajamas to settle down to head home and enjoy a restful night's sleep. Pre-registration and fee are required. (Holmdel Park, Holmdel)
  • Outdoor Cross-Country Ski Clinic on Sunday, February 1 from 1-3 p.m. offers the chance to learn the basics of cross-country skiing so you can ski with confidence when you venture out on your own this winter and in years to come. Pre-registration and fee are required. (Thompson Park, Lincroft)
  • Winter Full Moon Walk on Tuesday, February 3 from 5:15-6:15 p.m. will have us out exploring the trails under the light of a full moon. Pre-registration and fee are required. (Manasquan Reservoir, Howell)
  • Winter Reservoir Bird Walk on Sunday, February 8 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. takes us for a leisurely walk along the 5-mile perimeter trail as we search for birds spending their winter with us. Pre-registration and fee are required. (Manasquan Reservoir, Howell)

These are just some of the programs awaiting you in the parks! For a full list of our winter programs, visit our website

And don't let the winter chill get you too down, spring is slowly approaching. The Park System's Spring Program Directory will be released on Friday, February 6 and is filled with 100 pages of fun events and programs for the entire family!

Monday, January 12, 2015

January Nature Happenings

Have you ever wondered what happens in the world around us as the temperatures plummet? January weather brings all sorts of birds and other animals. Check out the fun and interesting nature happenings going on this wintry month.

Some things to look and listen for during the month:
  • The deep penetrating hoots of courting great horned owls – one of the earliest birds to breed - might be heard in Huber Woods Park, Middletown.
  • Chickadees, crows and blue jays that live in forests.
  • The absence of squirrels as they go into dormancy during the very cold weather.
  • The red fox will grow a thick fur coat during very cold weather and might be see in Thompson Park, Lincroft.
  • The hairy woodpecker’s territorial drumming in the woods.
  • Eagles from northwestern states or Canada – places where there is little ice-free water, a critical habitat requirement-  may join our eagle pairs here in Monmouth County.
  • The chickadee’s territorial call in the woods – phee-bee - might be heard in Clayton Park, Upper Freehold.
  • Black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice sing repeatedly in the morning.
  • Meadow voles (aka field mouse) traveling and breeding in tunnels beneath the snow.
  • Wintering ducks populate the salt ponds.  Bufflehead and goldeneyes feed during the day while scaup and canvasback can be spotted diving for food in shallow salt water around dawn and dusk. 
  • Elders, loons and mergansers might be seen from Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth, as they dive for food close to shore.
During this month:
  • Fish found off the Jersey Shore during January include winter flounder, whiting, blackfish and striped bass.
  • When the days first get longer; owls are establishing territory and foxes are mating.
  • Aquatic invertebrates generally spend the winter quietly as eggs or cysts.
  • As ice forms on lakes and ponds, it limits the amount of light and dissolved oxygen causing most aquatic life in the water to settle at the bottom. 

Some cool facts about January:
  • January 22 is the average start of the January thaw.
  • January is the coldest month of the winter with an average temperature of 31.6° F.  The ground freezes; cranberry bogs and freshwater pond usually freeze; and bays and sounds sometimes freeze.
  • January is a relatively dry month due to the predominance of northwest winds that flow from the dry interior land mass of the continent.
  • Snowfall in January averages about 5” along the Jersey Shore.
  • Days grow longer with an additional 50 minutes of daylight by month’s end.
  • The January’s full moon is called a “Wolf Moon” by some Indian Nations because wolves were more likely to forage for food near their villages and campsites during this cold, dark time of year.

The natural world never sleeps! Be sure to check out our Nature Calendar each month to learn fun facts on what's happening all around us. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Event Scheduled for January 10!

Chilly weather doesn't mean the Park System isn't preparing for fun! We've decided to show our visitors just how much enjoyment you can get outdoors during the cool winter months. WinterFest is coming to Thompson Park, Lincroft! Scheduled for Saturday, January 10 from 1:30-5:30 p.m., this all new special event is sure to cure you of your winter blues!

Check out the activities we have planned:

FREE FUN:
  • Frozen Scavenger Hunt
  • Discover Animal Tracks with a Park System Naturalist
  • Ice Fishing Simulation
  • Snowman Building Contest
  • Broom Ball
  • Snowball Fight
  • Winter Character Parade (dress up as your favorite character and join in the fun)
  • Ice Skating (weather permitting; bring your own skates)
  • Make & Take Winter Crafts (in the Creative Arts Center)
  • Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides (weather permitting)
  • Try Our Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Equipment
  • Grab 'n Go Winter Ceramics (in the Creative Arts Center)

Be sure to bring a camera as your family enjoys photo opportunities on a snowmobile, with our snowman, and more! The Surf and Turf Truck will be available to grab a tasty bite to eat. And if you get a little chilly, warm up next to our outdoor fire pit.

Admission and parking are free! For more information, please call us at 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Learn Something New!

If you've ever wanted to try something new, the Park System is the place to be. With a wide variety of programs and drop-ins, there's so much you and your family can try. But be careful, these fun activities and new hobbies may become addictive!

Drop-In Activities:

Archery

Grab a bow and try to hit the bull's-eye! Open Shoots are available for ages 8 and up (under 18 with adult) approximately once a month throughout the calendar year. Upcoming dates are June 21, July 19 and August 16 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Thompson Park Activity Barn, Lincroft. Cost is $7 per person; cash or check only. Family instructional archery classes are also available (preregistration required).

Canoeing

Take a relaxing paddle on the calm waters of Thompson Park's Marlu Lake, Lincroft. Offered every summer, canoe rentals are available on select weekends and Wednesday evenings. Rentals are available from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on the following weekends: June 28 & 29, July 12 & 13, July 26 & 27, August 9 & 10, August 23 & 24, September 13 & 14. Wednesday evening rentals are available from 6-9 p.m. on June 25, July 9, July 23, August 6 and August 20. Cost for canoe rentals is $15 per boat for 1-3 people for 2 hours; cash or check only. Canoe rentals are weather dependent. Other boat rentals are available throughout the Park System including rowboats and kayaks at the Manasquan Reservoir, Howell, as well as kayaks, canoes and paddleboats at Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold. Click here for more information.

Geocaching

Explore the great outdoors while on your own high-tech treasure hunt! Geocaching uses GPS devices to guide you toward hidden treasures (caches). Kits are available for you and your family to try this exciting activity at Thompson Park, Lincroft, on weekdays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturdays & Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Kits are free but participants are required to present a valid driver's license.

Parent/Child Morning Chores

Step back in time as a family and explore history as you help the Historic Longstreet Farm staff with their morning chores! Children (ages 4 and up) will gain a better understanding of what life was like in the 1890s as they lend a helping hand to collect eggs, milk the cows and feed the farm animals. Offered the first Saturday of every month (weather dependent) from 8-9 a.m., this is a terrific way to get your family interested in our area's history. Cost is $15 per parent/child pair, $5 each additional person; cash or check only.

Programs (require preregistration):

Golf

Whether you're interested in trying the sport for the first time or looking to refine your skills, the Park System offers a variety of programs to suit your needs.

My First Fish

Spend time together as you and your child (age 6-12) learn the basics of fishing with the guidance of our Park System Naturalists on Saturday, June 28 from 10-11:30 a.m. This is a great opportunity for your child to catch his or her first fish! All equipment is provided.

Southwest Style BBQ

Fire up the grill! Chef Peter DeCelie will be grilling up some amazingly tasty eats during this demonstration on Tuesday, July 1 from 6-9p.m. You'll go home with delicious recipes that include Grilled Clams with Veracruz-style sauce, Chorizo Bruschetta, Lime & Cilantro Shrimp and so much more!

Toddler Tumbling

Does your little one (age 3-5) enjoy fun exercise? Then they'll love learning forward and backward rolls, cartwheels, handstands, jumps and more as they explore the basics of tumbling on Mondays from July 7-28, 9:30-10:15 a.m. Tumbling is a great way to increase strength and flexibility!

Easy Morning Yoga

Develop strength, flexibility and balance during this morning program perfect for all body types, ages and fitness levels. Each Thursday morning (from July 10-August 28) you'll spend the morning enjoying the many benefits of yoga. 

These are just some of the ways you can learn something new in your Monmouth County parks. For more avenues of fun, visit our website.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Reel in Some Family Fun

There's nothing like spending special family time together in the parks. And we're always ready with fun events like the upcoming Freshwater Fishing Derby! Saturday & Sunday, June 14 & 15 is the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife's annual No-License-Required fishing weekend, and we want to make sure everyone is taking advantage of it!

The Freshwater Fishing Derby offers the opportunity for both young and old to enjoy a day of fishing, no matter what your level of experience. Don't know how to fish? Our experienced staff members will be offering FREE hands-on clinics from 12:30-1:30 p.m. (both days) to show you how to cast and rig as well as answer any questions you may have. The derby will then run from 2-5 p.m. with prizes being awarded for the longest fish in three different categories. Fishing pole rentals are available at $5 each (cash or check only) and a container of worms is included with each registration.

You have two chances to get in on the fun, just in case one day works better than the other. So here are your Freshwater Fishing Derby details:

Saturday, June 14

Manasquan Reservoir Visitor Center, Windeler Road, Howell
Clinics from 12:30-1:30 p.m.; derby runs from 2-5 p.m.

Sunday, June 15 

Turkey Swamp Park, Georgia Road, Freehold
Clinics from 12:30-1:30 p.m.; derby runs from 2-5 p.m.

Cost for this event is $25 per family of 4 or $8 per person. Pre-registration is suggested and is available by visiting the registration page; derby rules are provided upon registration. Walk-ins are welcomed on the day of the event; cash and checks only on site.

Don't let this event get away! We can't wait to see you there!