The City of Kissimmee School of Government held its second class on April 4, 2019, at the Berlinsky Community House highlighting the Parks and Recreation Department. The evening began with an introduction from the Parks and Recreation Director,  Elizabeth Harris, who explained all of the different elements that make up the Parks and Recreation Department. This department of the City of Kissimmee operates 365 days a year to provide beautiful, safe, and clean recreation areas for citizens to enjoy. The Parks and Recreation Department is made up of 66 full-time and 83 part-time employees, volunteers, and community service workers. 

“It is important that we provide quality leisure areas and services for the community and I’m extremely proud of our team at Parks and Recreation, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes and they all work really hard. ”

– Elizabeth Harris, Parks and Recreation Director

There are four divisions throughout the Parks and Recreations Departments, Administration, Parks Operation Maintenance/Public Lands, Recreation, and Special Events and Venues. 

Parks and Public Land Division supports and manages more than 450 acres of property including local parks like the beautiful Lakefront Park, ball fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, and the well-known Rose Hill Cemetery. There are currently 17 playgrounds throughout the city limits, and 6 of those were built with an organization called Kaboom which the City of Kissimmee received grant funding from. Kissimmee is the only city within the United States that has been awarded that many playgrounds. 

Steve Lackey, Assistant Director of Parks Operation Maintenance/Public Lands says, “Our motto in the Parks Division is ‘Clean Safe Parks’ because that is on the forefront of everyone’s mind when they come to work, having a clean and safe place for people to enjoy.”

Programming for the Recreation Division includes enrichment programs, recreation classes, sports lessons, community events, and day camps for all ages. This division also includes aquatics and SNAP (Special Needs Adaptive Programs). It also oversees 5 Community Centers, Athletic Complexes, and 1 Aquatic Center. During the class, a demonstration was held by the members of the Aquatics team and the class was able to have hands-on experience while they learn more about what it takes to be one of the lifeguards that work at the Bob Makinson Aquatic Center. The Bob Makinson Aquatic Center opened in 1995 and is the recipient of the 2007 and 2016 Platinum International Aquatic Safety Award presented by Ellis and Associates.

The Special Events and Venues division is made up of 12 full-time and 7 part-time employees. The staff oversees the Berlinsky Community Center, Kissimmee Civic Center, and the Lakefront Park for special events along with parades and road closures for those events. In 2018, the City of Kissimmee held over 250 events. The Special Events and Venues division is responsible for planning and coordinating year-round community events and festivals like the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and festival, Chili Cook-Off, Kowtown Festival, Caribbean Fusion, Symphony in the Park, July 4th Celebration, Art festival, Viva Osceola, and the Festival of Lights Parade at our parks.

To close out the evening the class played a friendly game of Jeopardy which focused on all of the Parks and Recreation information provided through the interactive presentations.  

The City of Kissimmee Parks and Recreation Department continues to provide outstanding service, manage and care for quality recreation areas throughout the city and Positively Osceola would like to express our gratitude and support towards all the hard work this department does throughout the year. Thank you for making a positive difference in our parks and recreation areas!