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April 18th, 2021

pancake chase 2020Contestants of the two and four-legged kind take part in a past Pancake Chase. This year’s chase is scheduled to take part March 20 at the Liberal Recreation Center. L&T file photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


March is officially here, and spring is scheduled to begin later this month.

Signs of the season can already be seen locally as the weather has warmed from the arctic blast felt in much of the area through most of February.

Before the vernal equinox, though, the Liberal Recreation Department is bringing a few events for community members both young and old, offering them a chance to get out and take advantage of higher temperatures.

The first event will take place Saturday, March 13, with the annual Leprechaun Challenge, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Ronna Stump, activities supervisor for Liberal Recreation, said the course for the 5K run and walk will start in the parking lot of Willow Tree Golf Course, run across 15th Street before turning north on Lincoln Avenue to Equity Bank, through the parking lot of Southwest Medical Center and back to 15th Street and eventually back to Willow Tree.

“This is a family event,” she said. “You can bring your dogs as long as they’re on leashes and your kids in strollers.” 

Registration for the Leprechaun Challenge will start at 12:30 p..m., with the run starting at 1 p.m. The registration fee is a free will donation.

“Whatever you feel like you can give us, that’d be great,” Stump said. “The money goes back into the Rec Center so we can offer more programs and get more things here.”

squeaky clean winter article

Participants in the Leprechaun Challenge are encouraged to wear green, and the person wearing the most green will get a special prize. Stump said other prizes will be handed out as well.

“It’s really fun if you see all the people wearing green on 15th Street,” she said. “We’ll have medals for places. This one’s fun to see how far people go.”

Early forecasts for the 13th are calling for highs in the 60s with a slight chance of precipitation. Stump said the Leprechaun Challenge has taken place in various kinds of weather throughout the years.

“We’ve run in the rain, and we’ve run when it’s hot,” she said. 

Stump said the Leprechaun Challenge provides plenty of fun for creatures of both the two-legged and four-legged kind.

“Some people bring their kids with them, or they bring strollers, walk it and push their kids,” she said. “They bring their dogs to walk it with them. It’s just more of a family one than the other ones.”

Next on the Rec Department’s calendar is a treat for children ages first grade through sixth grade. As school districts in the area take their spring breaks, the center is providing activities for kids for parents who need to continue to work throughout the week.

“We’ve done this the last couple years,” Stump said of the Rec Department’s own Spring Break. 

This event will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 15 through 19 at the center at 950 S. Grant.

“They come all day with us,” Stump said. “They bring their own lunch until Friday. Then we’ll provide lunch. It’s $25 a child, and you need to get signed up before Friday, March 12.”

Stump said kids will be kept active with help from herself and fellow Rec Department employee Traci Kirk.

“We’ll do games,” Stump said. “We’ll do arts and crafts. Traci’s even going to do some Lego stuff with them. It’s a small version of our Summer Venture program.”

A third event for the Rec Department was rescheduled from February due to the inclement weather. The Pancake Chase was originally scheduled for Feb. 13, the Saturday before what was supposed to be Pancake Day, and now, this event is scheduled to take place March 20 at the Rec Center.

Registration for the chase will start at 12:30 p.m., with the run starting at 1 p.m. Runners can do a 5K or 10K, and Stump said the Pancake Hall of Fame will still have prizes.

“You still get Pancake Day memorabilia,” she said.

The Pancake Chase has been run in the cold before, but with ice and snow covering much of Liberal’s streets in mid-February, Stump opted to postpone the run. Registration is a free will donation.

“That money will also go back into the Rec Center here for new games or anything we want to buy with it here,” she said. “They can fill out this form, come up here and do that or the day of.”

Stump said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had little impact on activities at the Rec Center.

“Our numbers have been a little less, but as everything’s starting to open back up, our numbers are getting a little bit more,” she said. “We’re adapting. We’re trying to still be safe, wear masks. We have hand sanitizer everywhere. We try to keep everybody safe as best we can.”

For more information about these events, call the Rec Department at 417-8154.

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