PERRY TWP. Stark Park mascot FeLeap had an extra spring in his step Sunday as he celebrated his 20th birthday at Sippo Lake Park in Canton.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the park district is hosting a series of events to bring the community together in different ways. On Sunday, parents and children enjoyed a birthday party for the frog mascot, complete with music, card-making, coloring T-shirts, dancing, puppet shows and treats.
The Stark County Park District made FeLeap the park district’s mascot in 1996 when well-known graphic artist Richard A. Thompson of Canton created the hiking-frog logo. FeLeap got his name from 10-year-old Amanda Criss of Canton the same year when she won a contest during the 1996 Stark County Fair. Criss, out of 1,200 submissions, received a savings bond and apparel featuring FeLeap from the Friends of Stark Park.
Now, 20 years later, FeLeap celebrates with the children who love his park.
Attendee April Kossbiel, of North Canton, said she and her two children love attending the events at the park.
"It’s amazing, we’ve been looking forward to it for a whole week," Kossbiel said. "The parks put on such great programs."
5-year-old David White said his favorite part about FeLeap’s birthday party was the leaping pads and the hoola hoops, which were set up around the room for kids to play with.
David’s father, Enoch White, 44, of Canton said he and his twin sons spend a lot of time at the parks, attending at least twice a week. They plan on completing the "50 Ways to Get Your Park On" list which includes a list of 50 different fun and rewarding ways to explore Stark Parks.
A volunteer who wished not to be named said more people should plan on attending the park events.
"I can’t imagine the number of hours that were put into this," she said. "(The volunteers) are so upbeat and positive. They did a phenomenal job."
Organizer Amanda Perry, 36, of Canton, took over planning FeLeap’s birthday parties 11 years ago and describes it as "pure fun." Her favorite part? Oldies music and dirt cups.
Before the party was over, the children got to make their own edible dirt cups, made up of chocolate pudding, Oreo cookies, and gummy worms.
To find out more ways you can celebrate Stark Parks’ 50th anniversary, visit starkparks.com.