- Cullman, Alabama

July 24, 2013

LOCAL SPORTS: Parks and Rec braces for hectic summer schedule

By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Most people tend to unwind during their summers, whether its taking a family vacation to the beach or simply just relaxing by a pool.

Waid Harbison, however, isn’t most people.

In fact, the marketing director at Cullman City Parks and Recreation finds the months of July and August to be his busiest time of the year.

Not that he’s complaining, though.

“It’s definitely different for me,” Harbison said. “There’s so much going on for us, but I like to stay busy. We have a lot of big events around this time for the community. It’s a good tradeoff.”

The first of these big events comes in the form of the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) State Swimming and Diving Championship.

The three-day event will be hosted by the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center starting Thursday. This year marks the third time in the last five Cullman has assumed hosting duties for the championship.

More than 1,000 swimmers are slated to participate in the event, whereas the city is projected to house approximately 5,000 people throughout the weekend.

“This event has taken a lot of prep work,” Harbison said. “We’ve had to close the aquatic center and get a bunch of the small details just right. The community has been great in helping us with it. We’ve gotten so much help from people, restaurants and businesses.”

Harbison’s main goal, however, lies with the swimmers, who remain the stars of this weekend’s events.

“We want to make sure they’re 100-percent covered,” he said. “We want what’s best for them, and we want to make everything swift and easy.”

After clearing the waters come Saturday evening, Harbison and the rest of the Parks Department will have little time to rest, as they prepare to welcome in yet another herd of competitors the following weekend.

Cullman City Parks and Recreation has partnered with St. Bernard Prep for the second time as they get ready to host the ASA Archery Tournament, a worldwide competition where Harbison and others are expecting between 1,200-1,500 archers to take aim at the bull’s-eye.

John Hunt, director of Cullman City Parks and Recreation said his staff is ready to dive in headfirst when it comes to making all the right accomodations for the community.

“First of all, I’m proud of my staff and their willingness to do all these big events,” he said. “It’s hard on us, but it’s not about us. It’s about the community. It’s good for everyone to bring these kind of events to Cullman.”

Although the average person may or may not have a bit of difficulty keeping pace with the logistics of these events, Harbison isn’t in a spot of bother. Rather, he finds it easier to keep going, going and going.

“Everybody in the department knows what they are supposed to do,” he said. “It’s actually a little better that it flows right into another event. It’s huge for us to be prepared and to have success with what we want to do.”

Following the archery tournament, the Parks Department will round out its busy schedule with the 21st annual Midnight Run 5K the following weekend, where proceeds will benefit the community playground.

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at