When you contemplate your favorite California "central" park, the images you conjure up include a gaggle of geese wandering up from the bucolic lake, waddling and quacking ducks, little furry bunnies chomping on the grass, ground squirrels scampering in and out of holes, and large expanses of green lawns, dotted with shade trees and picnic tables.
Every city in California has a "central" park, though it goes by many names. In cities such as San Mateo, Cypress and Huntington Beach, they call it Central Park. Most cities call it something else, though it is considered the best park in town. California's central parks often are inspired by the famed New York City Central Park or similar parks that immigrants to California from the East Coast remembered when they settled in the Wild West. California's semi-arid desert regions that dominate the landscape where most residents reside, enjoy central parks that require lots of watering and mowing to maintain the green expanses people cherish.
Free summer concerts are held on the "greens" and Easter Bunny Hunts rely on grasses to disguise the pink or purple plastic eggs. The lawns are lovely and they offer citizens and visitors much recreation ranging from soccer games and baseball to weddings, picnics, parties and exercise strolls.
While the cost of creating and maintaining city park lands and central parks isn't cheap, the value is considered a necessity for quality of life in most of California's 500+ cities and communities. Parks can account for 40% of a city's operating budget, though they generally take less of a bite and are usually only a half or quarter of the cost of most city's biggest expense-police and fire staff.
The resilience of cities in California during tough economic times is showcased in their parks & recreation programs. Very few cities have completely eliminated their summer programs such as free concerts in the park. By creating partnerships with wiling businesses that help support and pay for expenses such as bandstands, electricity for sound systems, and other costs, the Summer of 2011 proves to be the Summer of Parks in California.
Things you can do to help your central park include considering yourself a steward: