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Dianne Hoover

The Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department welcomes spring and daylight saving time because it means more people will be using the 59 city parks and the Kern River Parkway. We welcome all visitors to participate in the many park activities offered throughout the coming months, but there are a few rules.

If any group, including nonprofit organizations, is interested in using the Kern River Parkway or a city park for any type of event such as a walk, run, bike ride or other organized activity, a representative must first contact the Recreation and Parks Department. There are several events going on, especially in the spring and fall, so scheduling and obtaining a permit first and foremost is imperative. All groups are required to complete the reservation process at least two weeks prior to the event.

Park pavilions, or shelters, are also available for reservations for full days or half days. Easter weekend and Mother's Day weekend are especially busy, so get your reservation in early in order to create an enjoyable experience in the parks for everyone. We remind and encourage all park patrons to use the trash receptacles before leaving the park and help keep your parks clean.

Other reminders for all to enjoy the parks include:

* Keeping dogs and pets on leashes is required at all times, except in designated off-leash areas. And please pick up after your pet to ensure a pleasurable experience for all.

* Feeding of wildlife and waterfowl is not permitted. Ducks, geese, squirrels, kit foxes, gophers and other furry or feathered park inhabitants are wild animals and they survive by eating things in the environment that fit their needs. "People food" creates problems for them such as sickness, dependence, and interruption of their normal migration and breeding habits. So, please do not feed the animals in the parks; enjoy them as they are in the wild.

* Selling any items, or conducting classes/activities of any kind in a park without permission from the Recreation and Parks Department is prohibited.

* Treat the park as you would your own backyard; after all, the parks belong to all of us and it is our responsibility to keep them safe, clean and user friendly for all.

A full list of park rules and regulations are on the city's website at Our new spring/summer brochure will be available in mid-April and you can register online or in person at various locations. Check out learn-to-swim classes, after-school and summer programs, free movies and concerts, and the many other fun things on the spring and summer schedule. If you have teenagers, they can apply to be lifeguards, cashiers or program leaders. Summer jobs within the Recreation and Parks Department lead to many additional opportunities, especially for those interested in serving the public.

Remember, parks make life better!

Dianne Hoover is director of the Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words. The Californian reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.