If necessity is the mother of invention, then the pandemic has proven to be the father of reinvention.
The Boulder Creek Recreation and Park District (BCRPD) has long provided education, exercise, entertainment and support for local families. Since the addition of Hallie Greene as general manager in 2011, the district has expanded its reach and facilities, including the purchase of the Bear Creek Pool and Community Center. Community classes, holiday programs and dance performances have been staples of the district’s programs for San Lorenzo Valley residents under Greene’s direction, but the onset of Covid-19 has hit the district hard, and Greene has looked for ways to reinvent its offerings.
Enter the Reindeer Run 5k, a Boulder Creek-based event that seeks to augment the funds that have seeped from BCRPD’s operating budget due to the pandemic. Held from Dec. 23-27, runners will be given a path to follow including lengths along Highway 9, Forest Street and Irwin Way.
According to event co-organizer Lori Lee, the first year found three costumed runners dashing through the streets.
“The second year, we had 18 people participate for a donation to the district,” Lee said. “Last year was the initial partnership with BCRPD, and we had 78 people participate.”
The event raised more than $500 for the district. And this year? Lee said they’ve already got sign-ups, but they’re looking for a few more reindeer to run.
“Due to Covid-friendly safety measures, there isn’t just one event,” she said.
People sign up to run on their own or with their family—$15/registrant; kids younger than 12 are free.
“We’ve coordinated 10 starting windows over five days, with a limit of 30 people assigned to each window,” she said.
Throw in a little swag for the run, contactless medal presentation and a finish line selfie of your optionally-costumed solo/duo/team run, and this might be the highlight of your socially distanced December.
Greene said she is optimistic that the run will send some funds in her district’s direction.
“2019 was the first year BCRPD participated,” she said. “It was a last minute decision, and the donation-based event raised $700. Due to Covid, the district hasn’t done any events this year.”
Greene said she’s let go a third of her staff, and her budget has been slashed by 52%.
“It’s been a little sad,” she said. “We’ve spent years building things up, and everything’s been put on hold.”
In addition to core classes like Jazzercise, Greene says the district’s annual income is generated by rentals of the various indoor and outdoor spaces available.
“Those birthday parties and celebrations aren’t happening this year,” she says, “and it’s really impacted our budget. Right now, we’re just trying to keep the utilities on.”
Greene says a silver lining from 2020 was the symbiotic relationship developed and deepened between the district and the Boulder Creek Fire Department. During the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire, Fire Chief Mark Bingham worked with Greene to turn the recreation hall into temporary housing for exhausted firefighters.
“I’m happy that we were able to be there for that purpose,” Greene said. “That partnership is important, and the fire was an impetus to move forward on planning for the future. It’s clear that Chief Bingham and I want the best thing for both agencies’ needs, and that our teams have a good, supportive relationship.”
In addition, Greene is hoping to see volunteer groups give to BCRPD in ways that work for them.
“It’s heartwarming and encouraging to see that people do care about us and want to see us come back,” she said. “Long term we’ll survive and rebound, but anything to help get us through the coming months is welcomed and appreciated.”
Ready to throw on some antlers and a red nose that glows? Registration for the Reindeer Run 5k is open at www.bcrpd2.wufoo.com. Those wishing to donate without breaking a sweat can do so at www.bcrpd.org.