Outdoor family fun is at hand, care of the City of Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation

Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Kalamazoo series.

If it seems like you and the family have been cooped up indoors forever, the City of Kalamazoo Department of Parks and Recreation has something for you.
The city’s Winter Family Scavenger Hunt is intended to provide ongoing fun opportunities to get outside and get around town in a way that keeps people who are already family members socially distanced from others, and healthy.
Riddle: I am known for my long and scary mouth with lots of sharp teeth. I live in water and on land. What am I?
That is the riddle that accompanies one of 30 items that have been hidden in 15 public parks throughout the city to be found and photographed for a chance to win prizes. Clues are also included, such as: You can find me north of the stage or near the south entrance (of Bronson Park).
The go-at-your-own-pace scavenger hunt is free and open to all members of the community. It started on Feb. 15 and will continue through March 1.
According to Shannon Keene, special events coordinator for the Parks and Recreation, two of the same items, typically animal cutouts, will be hidden in different spots in each park and are not to be touched. One will be in an accessible location near the road and the other will be hidden further inside the park. The objective is to find either item and take a photo with it.
Prizes are to be awarded on March 3 to five families whose names are drawn from among all those that have completed the adventure (forwarding images of themselves or a family member with items they found in at least seven of the parks). Winners will be randomly selected to win a Family Season Pass at Kik Pool or a week of summer camp for one child.
Here are the rules:
• Participants only need to take a photo with the items and are asked to leave items where they
found them so that others can participate.
• The hidden items will be placed in locations that are within reach, and will not be placed in restricted areas, under any park equipment, or above seven feet off the ground.
• Participants will not need to look through flower beds or dig anywhere to find the items.
A link to the submission form can be found on the scavenger hunt page on the Kzoo Parks website, along with a scan of a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone. Or participants can visit here for a list of participating parks, clues, and maps.
Community members are advised to dress warmly, be cautious, and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when visiting the parks. The guidelines include wearing face coverings, frequently washing or sanitizing hands, covering coughs or sneezes, staying home if you are feeling sick or have been around anyone exposed to COVID-19, and social distancing.

Read more articles by Al Jones.

Al Jones is a freelance writer who has worked for many years as a reporter, editor, and columnist. He is the Project Editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo.