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Check Out 31 DSM Park Locations for a Chance to Win $1,000

July 4, 2018


I can’t cook, but one of the few things I can make and not completely mangle is spaghetti. One way to make sure the noodles are done is to throw a few at the wall and see if they stick. That’s somewhat similar to how our promotion, Tour DM Parks, began. Our team was looking for a way to replace our July one-day event on the Court Avenue Bridge as a celebration of National Parks and Recreation Month. While the bridge event was successful, it was very labor-intensive and did not provide the metrics we wanted. Through several brainstorming sessions, our team came up with the concept that came to be: a fun, engaging and measurable way to promote the park system. We threw that at the proverbial social media wall for the first time in 2016 and it stuck.

Tour DM Parks

This will be the third year of Tour DM Parks, where we have asked people to visit 31 designated spots in the park system in 31 days and share a photo of their visit on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using our specific hashtag. We weren’t quite sure what to expect out of the gate the first year and couldn’t have been more pleased when 67 people finished the tour and over 1,500 photos were submitted. Those totals grew to nearly 100 finalists last year and over 2,300 photos shared last year.

DM Park TourThe sheer number of pictures and finalists was one thing, but to really see people embrace and enjoy the program was another. Participants have had fun each year with props like stuffed animals and action figures. One person used their dog as the main focus of each photo and wrote their captions as though the dog was speaking. Several contributors have ridden the entire tour on their bicycles. It has become a family project for several groups and the reason to join social media for others.

Parks are where memories are made, and life experiences happen — proposals, weddings, family reunions, etc. We often remind each other to “take our park hat off” and try to see our system through the eyes of our patrons and Tour DM Parks does that in so many ways. As employees who drive through parks, preserve history of the cemeteries or maintain the trail system, we become blind to the beauty that is right before us. Comments from participants provided remind us how lucky we are to do what we do.

What others are saying

Here is just a sample of the feedback we received over the last two years:

 “I had more fun than I can explain and saw areas that I can't believe I had never visited. Had a great time with my Tour buddy. Can't wait for next year!”

“Tour Des Moines Parks was fun! I discovered many parks that I had not visited before. Pioneer Park overlook and the Glendale Cemetery wildflower scattering garden are two of my favorites.”

“We had a great time revisiting some familiar places and also going to places we wouldn't have gone to otherwise. There are so many beautiful trails to bike and walk, pools, sprinkles, tennis courts, playgrounds and communities to see in D.M. I encourage you to pack your water, pack your picnic coolers and go explore.”

“I wish instead of taking me to the State Fair and Adventureland when I was a kid, my mom would've just toured Des Moines parks with me. Would have been way more fun. If you have littles, you should consider it!”

“Loved this trail system. Lots of places to hike off the paved trail. Nice find in the middle of the city! Way to go Des Moines!”

“What I love about this tour is finding spots in Des Moines I never knew existed even after living here almost six years!” 

“We hit all 31 stops on the Tour. It was a great way to explore Des Moines. I hope Des Moines Parks does this again next year.”

“30.5 hours of playing at all 31 parks. Thank you for reminding us how vital parks are to every neighborhood.”

Get out and about

While July is National Parks and Recreation Month, we certainly encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the 75 parks, 81 miles of trail, 28 aquatic facilities in the City of Des Moines and numerous programs and special events our team provides throughout the year.

DM Park Tour SwingIn the meantime, the fun starts July 1. Be sure to download this year’s Tour DM Parks itinerary. Share photos of your journey on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #tourdmparks2018. Those who visit all 31 locations are eligible to compete to win the grand prize of $1,000 cash courtesy of the Friends of Des Moines Parks. We can’t wait to see what everyone has in store for us this year!

Whether it’s a morning on the lake or an evening spent riding through Greater Des Moines’ (DSM’s) 800 miles of connected recreational trails, the region has many outdoor options to choose from. 

Jen Fletcher

Jennifer Fletcher has over 20 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Jennifer joined Des Moines Parks and Recreation as marketing supervisor in 2011. She has implemented marketing and promotions strategies to increase awareness and participation for the breadth of offerings the department provides including parks, trails, recreation, cemeteries, volunteerism and more. Fletcher manages communications efforts across social media, online/print vehicles and serves as department spokesperson.