When you think of the Parks Department, images of playgrounds, picnic tables, and grassy fields comes to mind. Not only does the Valparaiso Department of Parks and Recreation manage the 20 parks around the city, the crew maintains medians, pathways, golf courses, and provides educational and fun events. Overseeing the Recreation division, Dan McGuire helps ensure the magic happens, mainly at the ever popular Central Park Plaza!
McGuire brings nearly a lifetime of service to the parks, joining the staff in eighth grade as a supervisor for the sledding areas. He then worked his summers at Rogers Lakewood Park, gave hayrides in the fall, worked the golf courses, learning just about every part of the department “except Horticulture,” until joining the staff full-time. Along with overseeing all park events and lending support to events taking place at Central Park Plaza, McGuire oversees Information Technology at the department.
“My favorite part of the job is the variety of things I get to do and the people I get to meet,” he stated. “In my job, I get to see the joy on people’s faces. Seeing the kids smile and have fun is a huge reward.”
Two downtown events particularly close to McGuire’s heart that he’s been able to be a part of are the Valpo Police K-9 Run/Walk and the Lakeshore PAWS Walk. “I’m a big fan of dogs,” he shared. “I also enjoy the 4th of July Blast,” he went on to say, talking about the annual Independence Day celebration he heads up for the city. “The city has grown over the years but it is still a community that comes together and is friendly.”
Speaking of the community coming together, one of McGuire’s personal projects for the park was the 200 East neighborhood park. “I got to work with the neighborhood, the kids, picking out the playground and the colors,” he shared, talking about how the residents came together to spread mulch as the finishing touch to the park.
McGuire is looking forward to the future of the department, with some big projects in the works. One of those includes an overhaul of Glenrose North, with both the park and ValPlayso experiencing some wear and tear, after nearly two decades of service to community kids. “We are currently working on our Master Plan, looking to begin this project in the next few years,” he said. “When looking at the whole project, we want to include a handicap accessible component to both the park and the playground. The funds from the Party in the Park event held in August will help in this process.”
“A lot of credit goes to the people I work with. It’s a team effort to get stuff done in the city,” McGuire shared. “I’m pretty fortunate in the job I have here. This is a great community. It’s been growing positively!”