The temperature at 9 a.m. Saturday was 38, the chill factor was 29 and the winds gusted to 30 mph from the north, but the frigid conditions did not stop 40 volunteers and several city staff members from gathering at Purser Family Park for the first-ever “I Love My Parks Day,” sponsored by the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department.

Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Achee laughingly told the Herald, “We know people love their parks so we wanted to give them a free T-shirt that said it.”

Parks and Recreation also supplied refreshments and hand warmers in addition to the T-shirts.

“Despite the weather today, our residents have told us that “I Love My Parks Day” was a good idea because they enjoy the trails, the playground and the programs we have here,” Achee said. “This gives them a hands-on approach to expressing their gratitude. That’s what volunteerism is all about. These residents aren’t getting paid for this work. It comes from the goodness of their hearts.”

The morning began extra early for workers from the Parks and Recreation Department as they prepared the highlight project by setting out plants and trees at the entrance to the park.

Achee said, “It has no landscaping around it. It’s what got us to thinking about getting the residents involved. Every time they enter the park, they’ll remember they had a hand in its beautification.”

Volunteers went in all directions throughout the park and picked up trash, trimmed brush from low-hanging trees, stacked limbs and provided their own tools to cut those limbs.

Michelle Pace said, “I love the theme. Harker Heights has so many wonderful programs and we try to make it to as many as we can.”

Ella Evans brought her daughter and a friendfrom a Girl Scout Troop and told the Herald that it’s important that we keep our parks nice and clean. “It’s freezing cold today but the weather’s not gonna stop us. We’ll get it done,” she said.

There was another painting project planned for the day but it was just too cold and would be added to the next to-do-list, according to Achee.

Tessy Edomwandageon and her daughter, Esohe, were picking up plastic and trash and like so many others use the parks on a regular basis. They love their parks and were serious about making the community a better place to live and enjoy.

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