As fall settles in, a sense of normalcy returns to Chatham County Parks and Rec

Posted 10/6/21

PITTSBORO — For the first time in nearly two years, Chatham residents will be able to celebrate fall outside of their homes — and cars — this season.

Last fall, Chatham County Parks and …

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As fall settles in, a sense of normalcy returns to Chatham County Parks and Rec

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PITTSBORO — For the first time in nearly two years, Chatham residents will be able to celebrate fall outside of their homes — and cars — this season.

Last fall, Chatham County Parks and Recreation adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering both virtual- and drive-thru-only programming, modifying some of its usual seasonal programs, such as Trunk or Treat — which became the “Trunk or Treat Boo-Thru” — to give residents the opportunity to participate during troubling times.

A year later, however, the department’s fall celebrations will look much more normal.

“Following the guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, we are thrilled to be able to offer in-person, outdoor events this fall,” Mallory Peterson, program supervisor for Chatham County Parks and Rec, wrote in an email to the News + Record on Monday. “We are very excited to connect with our community in person this year!”

Peterson said the department is urging individuals to spread out as much as possible while attending programs and to wear face coverings when maintaining a 6-foot distance with others isn’t possible.

Taking the challenge

In 2020, one of the department’s most popular programs was the Chatham County Challenge, a month-long virtual event that tasks participants to complete three activities over the course of October:

• Walk 50 kilometers (or 31 miles)

• Run 50 kilometers (or 31 miles)

• Bike 100 kilometers (or 62 miles)

The 2020 Challenge was met with plenty of positive reception, amassing 90 participants, which inspired the department to restart it this fall. Sign-ups ended on Sept. 30.

“The community loved being motivated to get outside (and) be active and enjoyed the friendly competition,” Peterson wrote. “Many participants mentioned they were interested in participating again, so we brought the program back for a second year.”

This year’s competition began on Oct. 1 with 126 participants vying for one of the Challenge’s 64 prizes.

The top 20 athletes in each category — based on distance traveled — will receive a free t-shirt, while the top athlete in each category will earn a $25 gift card to New Horizons, a Pittsboro-based boutique.

Participants are required to track their progress either using the Map My Fitness app on their smart phones or doing it by hand with a paper log, an option being utilized by about 40 entrants.

“We also have significantly more participation with the paper log option this year thanks to Chatham County Council on Aging’s major participation,” Peterson wrote.

The winners will be announced on the department’s social media channels after the conclusion of the Challenge on Oct. 31.

“While COVID-19 continues to bring much uncertainty to our lives, one thing for certain is our commitment to keep Chatham County residents active and involved in our community,” Peterson wrote. “Recreation looks different for everyone. Whether you’re walking, running or biking, we want to celebrate and encourage physical activity in our community.”

Enjoying the holidays

Over the next couple of months, the department is hosting plenty of holiday-themed activities to get residents in the Halloween and holiday spirit, along with those that are focused on fun and general well-being.

The department kicks off holiday programming with a workshop focused on making holiday bows from 6:30-8:00 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 18, at Chatham Grove Community Center.

Then, just two weeks later, residents can celebrate Halloween a day early with the Trunk or Treat Fall Festival from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, located at Northeast District Park in Chapel Hill that’s slated to feature trunk-or-treating — a mobile spin on traditional trick-or-treating where people decorate the trunks of their cars and hand out candy — pumpkin carving/decorating, Halloween-themed games and crafts, among other activities.

The last of its designated holiday programs is its Holiday in the Park festival, taking place from 2:30-5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, at Northwest District Park in Siler City that acts as awinter holiday-themed version of its fall festival.

And for those that aren’t interested in holiday activities, the department will continue to host yoga classes (Tuesdays and Thursdays at Chatham Grove Community Center), open adult pickleball sessions (Saturdays at Chatham Grove) and jump rope classes (Mondays at Chatham Grove), as well as other programs.

The county’s youth basketball league is also returning this fall, where boys and girls aged 5-18 will have an opportunity to play against one another at a variety of schools in the area. Registration ends Oct. 29.

In addition to athletic activities, the department is offering those based on tracing genealogy, creating arts and crafts, storytelling and watching movies.

“There is something for everyone this fall with Chatham County Parks and Recreation,” Peterson wrote.

While there is plenty of reason to rejoice for the return of in-person, out-of-vehicle programs this fall, Peterson said she understands the ever-changing challenges that the ongoing pandemic presents.

The department’s no stranger to them.

“(Throughout the pandemic) we have tried to stay as flexible and adaptable as we can,” Peterson wrote. “We have learned the importance of modifying our traditional programs and events to keep our community safe and healthy. We come up with multiple plans for each event to be prepared to comply with changes that may come from local, state or federal health guidelines.”

To learn more about programs and events taking place with Chatham County Parks and Recreation this fall, head over to to view this season’s brochure.

To register for programs, visit You must sign-up for an account to register.

Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.


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