Spring: Before You Know It!

With all the sunshine and melting snow we’ve seen over the past few days, it’s hard not to turn your thoughts to spring, when everything in the parks will look new again and there will be tons of opportunities to get outside.  We’ve got a busy slate of events coming up starting in March, including half a dozen volunteer days and a free film presentation.  Check out some of the events on offer below, and visit www.parksarefree.com for more!

Urban EcoSteward Erosion Control Training
Sunday, March 6, 9:00am – 12:00pm
Riverview Park Chapel Shelter

Keep that water from racing down the hillside!  Learn techniques for keeping valuable soil from washing away using plants and other restoration techniques.  Register at www.pittsburghparks.org/uestrainings.

Olmsted LegacyFree Film Screening: “The Olmsted Legacy”
Thursday, March 10, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Carnegie Museum of Art Theater

Join us for a free screening of the documentary The Olmsted Legacy.  The one-hour film examines the formation of America’s first great city parks in the late 19th century through the enigmatic eyes of Frederick Law Olmsted, visionary urban planner and landscape architect.  We’ll follow the film with a panel discussion and dessert reception.  RSVP at www.pittsburghparks.org/filmfestival

Schenley Park Volunteer Day
Sunday, March 13, 9:00am – 12:00pm
Bartlett Shelter

Help the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy improve the Panther Hollow Run stream through plantings and other restoration techniques.  To sign up, visit www.pittsburghparks.org/volunteerdays.

Highland Park Volunteer Day
Saturday, March 19, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Pool Grove Shelter on Lake Drive

Help the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy clear a garbage dump site and beautify Highland Park with native plantings.  To sign up, visit www.pittsburghparks.org/volunteerdays.

Cliffside Park Volunteer Day
Saturday, April 2, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Corner of Cliff St. and Cassatt St. in the Hill District

Help the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy continue improvements at Cliffside Park in the Hill District.  To sign up, visit www.pittsburghparks.org/volunteerdays.

Panther Hollow Volunteer Extravaganza
Saturday, April 16, 9:00am – 1:30pm
Meet at Schenley Plaza

Join the Parks Conservancy and many partner organizations for this watershed-wide improvement including tree planting, trash and invasive plant removal, storm drain stenciling, and more.  This year we’ll be working in the park as well as the Oakland neighborhood, and we hope to have at least 300 volunteers!  Learn more and help us meet our goal at www.pittsburghparks.org/extravaganza

Riverview Park Volunteer Day
Saturday, April 30, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Riverview Park Chapel Shelter

Help the Parks Conservancy plant native trees and install deer protection to improve park health. To sign up, visit www.pittsburghparks.org/volunteerdays.

Spring Hat Luncheon
Saturday, May 7, 11:15am – 2:15pm
Riverview Park

The Hat Luncheon is the Parks Conservancy’s premier fundraising event, combining high fashion, an elegant meal, and the beauty of Pittsburgh’s natural areas.  In addition to being the can’t-miss social event of springtime, the Hat Luncheon has brought in more than $4 million for the restoration of our city parks.   To purchase tickets, visit www.pittsburghparks.org/springhatluncheon or call 412-682-7275.

Urban EcoSteward Early Season Invasives Training
Sunday, May 15, 9:00am – 12:00pm
Lower Frick Parking Lot off Lancaster Ave.

What’s a “good plant” and what’s a “bad plant?”  Learn how to identify and remove invasive plants early in the season.  Register at www.pittsburghparks.org/uestrainings.

Urban EcoSteward Tree and Shrub ID Training
Thursday, June 9, 5:30 – 7:30pm
Lower Frick Parking Lot off Lancaster Ave.

Ever wonder what that tree is that produces such pretty flowers in spring?  This is the place to come for answers!  Learn some useful tools for field identification of native and non-native trees and shrubs.  Register at www.pittsburghparks.org/uestrainings.

Frick Park Volunteer Day
Saturday, June 11, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Lower Frick Parking Lot off Lancaster Ave.

Join the Parks and Conservancy and the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association in this all-around workday of planting, invasive removal, and cleanup to help improve the Fern Hollow stream, a tributary to Nine Mile Run.   To sign up, visit www.pittsburghparks.org/volunteerdays.

Photo Contest Winners

In case you missed it over at our website, here are the winners of our 2010 Parks Are Free Photo Contest.  Look for the grand prize photo in an upcoming issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Thanks to the amazing photographers who sent us 250 beautiful park photos.  Our judges at UPMC Health Plan certainly had a wonderful array of shots to choose from, and these were the 12 favorites.

(P.S. Go buy your copy of the 2011 Parks Are Free calendar here and look at these images all year!)

David Pinkerton - Pink Reflection

David Pinkerton, “Pink Reflection,” Allegheny Commons

Jennifer Stein - Bowling Green Bench 

Jennifer Stein, “Bowling Green Bench,” Frick Park

John Moyer, Nine Mile Run in Winter

John Moyer, “Nine Mile Run in Winter,” Frick Park

John Moyer - Yellow Warbler

John Moyer, “Yellow Warbler,” Frick Park

Alan Whittington - Frick Tree

Alan Whittington, “Frick Tree”

Anne Hong - Observatory Hike at Dusk

Anne Hong, “Observatory Hike at Dusk,” Riverview Park

Sean Kelly - Schenley Overlook

Sean Kelly, “Schenley Overlook”

Brian Werner, Champion

Brian Werner, “Champion,” Schenley Park

Jennifer Stein, Frick Park Leaves

Jennifer Stein, “Frick Park Leaves”

Lisa Seligman, Schenley Park Road

Lisa Seligman, “Schenley Park Road”

Lindsay Rethage, Almost four years of thought

Lindsay Rethage, “Almost Four Years of Thought,” Fall Run Park

Jon Pratt - Frick Park

Jon Pratt, “Frick Park”

It’s photo contest time again!

Parks Are Free photo contest

Last year's winner, "Easton's Magical Leaves," by Mary Lee Fusco

We had so much fun with the Parks Are Free Photo Contest last year that we’re bringing it back for a second year!  Starting today, you can enter your favorite park photos into our contest for a chance to see your work in a Parks Are Free calendar and in the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteComplete rules and instructions are here.

Twelve finalists will be selected by Parks Are Free sponsor UPMC Health Plan. Finalists’ photos will be:

  • Made into a 2011 Parks Are Free calendar that will be available in November at the Parks Conservancy’s online store, with the winning photo also used as the cover image;
  • Displayed at the Schenley Park Café and Visitor Center throughout the month of November;
  • Featured on www.pittsburghparks.org.

The grand prize winning photo will be published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The winning photographer will also receive an item of his or her choice from the Parks Conservancy’s online store

Entry deadline is September 30, 2010.  Due to the high volume of entries received last year, please submit no more than five photos per person.  Enter by e-mailing your photos to photos@pittsburghparks.org or submit them to the Parks Conservancy Flickr group using the tag PPC-Contest10.  Please include your name and the name of the park where the photo was taken. 

You can send questions to photos@pittsburghparks.org or post them here.  We look forward to seeing what YOU saw in the parks this year!

Please share this link with your friends and encourage them to enter:

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

10 Fun, Free Things to Do in the Parks This Week

In case you don’t subscribe to our e-mail newsletter, we’re reposting a guide to some of the many free events going on in the parks over the next week.  We’re getting ready to kick off a second summer of the Parks Are Free campaign, which encourages families to learn about all the great things going on in our park system.  Parks Are Free is brought to you by UPMC Health Plan

You can visit ParksAreFree.com anytime to see the latest events.  When you click “View Calendar,” you will find a site searchable by date, park, and event type. 

Heritage Day

Horseback riding at Riverview Park Heritage Day.

1. Riverview Park Heritage Day | June 12, 11:00am
This day of fun, food, and celebration begins at 11:00 with a parade and concludes after dark following a Stars at Riverview jazz concert and the kickoff to Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park on Observatory Hill.  more info

2. Mellon Park Walled Garden Dedication | June 12, 8:30pm 
This lovely garden in Shadyside’s Mellon Park has been beautifully restored in memory of Ann Katharine Seamans.  Bring a blanket and join us for music and remarks as we light up the garden for the first time.  more info

3. Cardio Boot Camp at Schenley Plaza | June 13, 11:00am 
We’re launching a new fitness series at Schenley Plaza!  Partnering with X Shadyside, we’re offering free cardio boot camp classes every Sunday, June through August.  Don’t miss the first class this weekend!

4. Family Fun Night in Schenley Park | June 13, 6:30pm
Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park starts early this Sunday!  Family Fun Night brings face-painting, lawn games, and hands-on activities to Flagstaff Hill before a screening of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”  more info

5. Lunchtime Yoga at Schenley Plaza | June 14, 12:00pm 
It’s back!  Our wildly popular lunchtime yoga series returns for its third year.  Bring some water and a mat (or borrow one of ours) and rejuvenate your lunch break with Folding Space Yoga.  For those who can’t make it out on Mondays, we also offer a free class on Saturdays at 10:00am.  more info

6. Live Music at Schenley Plaza | June 15, 12:00pm
Enjoy a concert with lunch every Tuesday through Thursday at Schenley Plaza. Today’s artist is singer-songwriter Barbara York.  June schedule

Susan Rieff

Susan K. Rieff

7. Parks Conservancy Speaker Series with Susan K. Rieff | June 16, 11:30am 
The Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh History of Art and Architecture Department, welcomes Susan Rieff to Pittsburgh for a presentation on uniting landscape and building in environmental education.  Rieff is the Executive Director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.  This free event is open to the public.  RSVP here

8. Lunchtime Tour of Mellon Square | June 16, 12:15pm 
Spend your lunch hour learning about the history of one of downtown Pittsburgh’s crown jewels on our monthly walking tour of Mellon Square.  You’ll meet your guide Sam Webb at the AFL-CIO sign.  more info

9. Frick Park Walk in the Woods | June 16, 6:30pm
We’ll cross our fingers for sunshine for the first of this season’s Wednesday-night walks in Frick Park.  Walks in the Woods visits a different regional park each week, covering history, ecology, and fun facts about the park.  Your guide for this week’s walk, beginning at the Environmental Center, will be Leo Stember.  more info

10. Mellon Square Summer Concert Series | June 17, 11:00am
Citiparks sponsors this popular downtown concert series in association with Q92.9, BOB-FM, and City Paper.  Today’s performer will be classic rock band Doubleback.   more info

Parks Are Free Film Series

Who doesn’t love a free movie? Or better yet, four free movies? The Parks Conservancy is partnering with Pittsburgh Filmmakers to bring you the first-ever Parks Are Free Film Series March 25-27. Since the weather will still be too cold and dreary to host any events outside, we thought we’d get our park fix indoors until spring finally arrives.

The films will be shown at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside. The screenings are free, but seating is limited so you should reserve your seat in advance by clicking here. Have a look at the schedule below, and be sure to note a few extra presentations we have in store for the weekend!

The GardenThe Garden
Thursday, March 25, 7:00pm

Filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s politically charged, Oscar-nominated documentary follows a group of low-income families struggling to protect a 14-acre urban farm in the middle of South Central Los Angeles from bureaucratic real estate developers.  Runtime: 80 minutes

The GatesThe Gates
Friday, March 26, 7:30pm

The Gates chronicles the decades-long struggle of Christo and Jeanne-Claude to bring their most ambitious work of art to life, and reveals the intricate process of completing the 7,503 saffron-colored gates and fabric panels used in “The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005.”  Runtime: 98 minutes

Join us at 6:30pm before the screening of The Gates for a tour of the restored Mellon Park Walled Garden.

Pale MalePale Male
Saturday, March 27, 3:00pm

A red-tailed hawk’s astounding arrival in 1991 made Manhattan history. No other red-tailed hawk had ever attempted to make Manhattan his territory. Affectionately dubbed Pale Male, he made an exclusive Fifth Avenue apartment building his home.  Runtime: 56 minutes

Join us after this screening at 4:00pm for a presentation by the National Aviary and Rachel Carson Homestead.

A Sense of WonderA Sense of Wonder
Saturday, March 27, 5:00pm

Depicting pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson (Silent Spring, 1962) in the final year of her life, this film was made at Carson’s cottage on the Maine coast.  Runtime: 54 minutes