Friends of Harrison Park has recently completed its first year as a volunteer non-profit organization. We were incorporated in early 2018 and held our first organization meeting on July 7, 2018. In August of 2018, we received our 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. During our first year we have built an impressive group of volunteers, created an email supporter list of over 120 people, and have increased our social media presence from 230 to over 850 followers. Additionally, the support we have received from the Gilmer Chamber of Commerce, Stay Active Ellijay and many local businesses has allowed us to successfully accomplish many projects throughout the past year.
Accomplishments to date:
- September 22, 2018 – Fall Fundraiser sponsored by Stay Active Ellijay, where we jointly raised enough money to pay architect fees to design the planned Grain Bin restrooms for the park.
- September 30, 2018 – Family Picnic in the Park. This free event was open to everyone in Gilmer County. Through donations, we provided free soft drinks and desserts along with a live band.
- November 28, 2018 – Festival of Trees participant at the library. Our theme was “All creatures, great and small are…..Friends of Harrison Park. The tree was decorated with small woodland animals, handmade ornaments and braided garland.
- December 2018 – our volunteers provided Free gift wrapping in downtown stores each weekend before Christmas.
- February 26, 2019 – Created a Bluebird Trail along the trails at the park. Six bluebird boxes and one feeder were installed and are checked and maintained each week by volunteers.
- March 16, 2019 – St. Petrick’s Day Parade event where we sponsored a booth to provide general information about the park, our organization and future plans for the park.
- March 30, 2019 – Installed 2 Dog waste stations along the park trails and now maintain them.
- March 30, 2019 – Joined the Harrison Park Advisory Board in a park workday where we planted daffodils, cut grass around the bluebird boxes and completed a display case where park event flyers and other park information can be posted.
- April 8, 2019 – Released a Request for Proposal to 8 architectural firms for a Park Master Plan. This is the first major step to have a 10 year Park Master Plan created for Harrison Park. Friends of Harrison Park worked with the Mayor and City Council members to include all priority amenities in the proposal. Three firms submitted bids on May 24 and the Friends of Harrison Park board members selected one of those 3 with which to move forward.
- April 13 and 27, 2019 – “Talk about Bluebirds” one of our volunteers were at the park these days to lead discussions and answer questions about bluebirds and explain what it takes to create and maintain the bluebird trail.
- May 11, 2019 – “Health It! “ This was the first of 6 free events in the park designed to promote health education and fitness in the community. Each month features a local health or fitness professional, who will make a short presentation and then lead a walk or other physical activity in the park. Piedmont Health Services partnered with us for this first event. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to weather concerns.
- May 13 – 17, 2019 – Bluebird Classes for 2nd graders at Ellijay Primary School. Friends of Harrison Park Volunteers led 137 second grade students and their teachers along the park trails, let them look inside the bird boxes at nests, eggs and fledglings……then explained the behavior and patterns of bluebirds and answered questions. Drinks, snacks and a Bluebird pin were given to each child.
- June 15, 2019 – “Health It!” YOGA in the park. 28 people turned out for a beginning class in Yoga, led by Jessi Barton, of Nourish Yoga studio
- June 21, 2019 – “Music in the Park”. Friends of Harrison Park partnered with Gilmer Arts Acoustic Blends to bring their regular monthly event to the park in June. This event was free to the public. Almost 200 people attended, which was a record breaking crowd for GA’s Acoustic Blends program.
- July 4, 2019 – Fourth of July Parade. A group of volunteers participated in the Downtown Ellijay parade to show support for our country and our town!
- July 13, 2019 – “Health It!” PETS in the Park. Friends of Harrison Park partnered with VCA Appalachian Animal Hospital to bring a program about pet health to attendees. Twenty individuals and 8 pets participated in a brief presentation and then continued to walk along the trails.
Planned Programs and Events:
- August 10, September 14 and November 9, 2019 – our remaining “Health It!” Events will be held. Future plans include chiropractic information, Zumba, dental health and another yoga class.
- August 31, 2019 and September 14 and 28, 2019 – “Movies in the Park”. We plan to hold 3 movie nights during the summer on these Saturday nights. The movies will be free and family oriented and will be preceded by music, games or other entertainment. Local businesses are being asked to sponsor these movie nights and will receive advertising and promotional opportunities in return.
- October 5, 2019 – Fall Fundraiser: This event will again be co-sponsored by our Stay Active Ellijay friends. Proceeds from this event will be used to contribute to the Park Master Plan, Barn Restoration or other future programs.
- October 14 – November 1, 2019 – “ Scarecrows invade Harrison Park”. Civic organizations, businesses, school groups and churches will be invited to create and erect their own Scarecrows in Harrison Park along the trails.
- On October 18, a moonlight walk through the exhibit will be led by Friends of Harrison Park Volunteers. Prizes for best scarecrows in multiple categories will be presented at the October 26 Chili Challenge.
- October 26, 2019 – “Chili Challenge and Scarecrow Invasion”. We will have competitions for the best chili our Ellijay businesses, organizations and home cooks can create. Live music, children’s games and other activities will be provided. This family event will be open to the public.
- November 28, 2019 – Again this year, Friends of Harrison Park Plan to be a Festival of Trees participant at the library. This year’s theme will focus on our abundant bird population at the park.
- December 2019 – Free gift wrapping will be offered again this year to all downtown shoppers. Friends of Harrison Park will set up booths each weekend before Christmas in convenient locations.