Barrie family finishes goal of visiting 104 city parks

While much of the province was closed over the last year, one Barrie family found a way to make the most of the COVID-19 restrictions.

With little to no travel options and many indoor facilities shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tim DeLong decided to spruce up the cliché family trips to the park. Instead of constantly revisiting their favourite, Patterson Park, DeLong chose to create a family mission to visit all of Barrie's parks.

To DeLong's surprise, there were far more than he ever expected.

"We had done, I don't know, a handful of them, and then when I put in the spreadsheet, and I saw there was over 100 of them, I was a little bit intimidated, but I thought let's make it systematic, have fun and as long as the kids were having fun, I was willing to do it," DeLong says.

The city of Barrie offers more than 100 city parks with play structures and different activities throughout the city.

"I've lived here all my life, I grew up in Barrie, and I had no idea there were more than 20 parks," says Rebekah DeLong, Tim's wife and mother of their three children. "I think it gives a really good opportunity of safe, fun family things people can do and a challenge if you're up for it to try to see how many you can get in over the summer."

The DeLong family recently reached their goal, taking their kids to every park throughout the city. It served as a way to keep the family busy and teach the kids the valuable lesson of sticking to a task and accomplishing it.

"You can kind of see the goal on my fridge," Tim says. "I have two sheets of paper, and they've got all the parks, and they've got checkboxes by them, and every time we went, we did a couple parks, two or three parks, the kids would come home, they'd check them off and to see that slowly you can accomplish a goal, that would be great if they could take that away."

After visiting each park, a photo of the three siblings was taken in front of the sign. Once he posted the compilation to social media, it garnered the attention of Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman.

This is nothing short of awesome...

104 playground parks in a year and they took pics at all of them. Way to go Team DeLong.

And...pretty amazing that @cityofbarrie with 150k pop'n has 104 playgrounds...and more to come shortly in the south end.

— Jeff Lehman (@Mayor_Jeff) July 2, 2021

"I mean, if you think about that, 104 playgrounds. You could go to one every three days and never go to the same playground twice in the course of the year," Lehman says. "So it's one of those things during COVID, we've all had to adapt, we've all had to get used to doing more things outside. I'm just glad that this family was able to enjoy so much of it, and it reflects the kind of city I think we are.

The DeLong family is grateful that the decision to close parks once again at the peak of the third wave this past spring was reversed. Tim says the kids enjoyed the challenge.

"At first, I thought when I would visit a park with my adult eyes, okay, this looks just like our park, the kids are going to be bored in a heartbeat. But they would find sand toys; they would bring sand toys, they would play with new friends, they would find a way to make the park different even if it had the same structures!"