1 minute interview interview with Desiree Stanfeld, Supervisor of Marketing and Communications for Oakland County Parks

The River Ride at Red Oaks Waterpark (provided photo)

Summer has officially arrived and it’s time to celebrate the warm weather with some fun. The Oakland County Parks and Recreation system is made up of 14 parks, including two waterparks (Red Oaks and Waterford Oaks), three dog parks (Lyon Oaks, Orion Oaks and Red Oaks) and two campgrounds (Addison Oaks and Groveland Oaks). Desiree Stanfield, Supervisor of Marketing and Communications for Oakland County Parks spoke with The Spinal Column about events for the summer and some little treasures few people know about.

What is happening this summer in Oakland County Parks and Recreation?
“The parks offer 80 miles of trails, fishing, boating, swimming and more. Plus, there’s five golf courses to choose from. We love to see families golfing together because they are sharing their love of the game with the younger generation.”

Oakland County Parks and Recreation was unable to open Waterford Oaks Waterpark last summer due to a lifeguard shortage. Has the lifeguard shortage improved this summer? Will Waterford Oaks and Red Oaks (Madison Heights) both be open this summer?
“Both waterparks will be open with adjusted schedules so we can share staff between the two
locations. The pandemic and national lifeguard shortages have been challenging.
Red Oaks Waterpark and Waterford Oaks Waterpark are now open after a two-year hiatus due
COVID-19 in 2020 and staffing shortages in 2021.
Red Oaks Waterpark will be open from 11 am – 7 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Waterford Oaks Waterpark will be open from 11 am-7 pm on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.
Both locations will be closed Wednesdays. Only Waterford Oaks Waterpark will be open on the
Fourth of July.
Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online at OaklandCountyParks.com up to three days
prior to day of visit as it’s likely many days will sell out in advance, especially with the hot weather
we’ve had lately.
Our popular River Walk Program at Red Oaks Waterpark returns this year. People can walk in the
River Ride attraction after the waterpark closes for the day. River Walk runs Mondays and
Wednesdays from July 6-Aug. 17. You can register for the program or buy punch cards at
Red Oaks Waterpark offers a wave-action pool; triple-flume waterslide; the River Ride floating
attraction; and new children’s splash pad with 52 interactive water features, including a water play
climber with slides and a dumping bucket. Waterford Oaks Waterpark has a tropical wave pool
that features palm trees and bubbler fountains near the shore. A children’s water playground
provides more than 30 interactive activities.”

What is new this summer?

“Holly Oaks ORV Park plans to open 62 additional acres to the public later this summer, likely
mid-July through early August. Currently, 106 acres are open for riding. This new riding space will open as a scramble area which refers to exploring and utilizing the site
‘as-is,’ without man-made trails and obstacles. Follow future announcements on the Holly Oaks
website and social media.
Holly Oaks ORV Park utilizes former and active sand and gravel mines, making it a unique
destination for all types of ORVs, including full-size vehicles, side-by-sides, and all-terrain
vehicles (ATVs), as well as motorcycles.”

The County Fair is always a favorite. What can people expect this year? Will there be any changes because of COVID?
“The Oakland County Fair runs for 10 days (July 8-17) at Springfield Oaks County Park. There
are animals, food fair, arena events, midway games and rides, entertainment, and agricultural
exhibits. Circus acts will return to the fairground for the first time in a few years, along with the
fan favorite Bottomless Chocolate Milk.
For more information on the annual Oakland County Fair, including a schedule of events and
ticket promotions, visit OakFair.org.
Currently Oakland County is at a low transmission rate for COVID infection. If that changes by
fair time, social distancing will be encouraged and other precautions may be added as needed.”

How much does it cost to visit a park?
“Eight of the 14 parks require a daily permit or people can purchase an annual vehicle
permit. These are Addison Oaks, Groveland Oaks, Highland Oaks, Independence Oaks, Lyon
Oaks, Orion Oaks, Red Oaks Dog Park, and Rose Oaks. Rates are:
$5/car/day: Oakland County Resident Rate
$12/car/day: Regular Rate
$4/car/day: Seniors 62+/Adaptive/Military/Veterans
Annual permits can be purchased at the parks, online or at some of our partner locations (listed at
$30/Oakland County Resident Rate
$48/Regular Rate
Permits are free to Oakland County resident senior citizens (62+), individuals with permanent
Specialties, military and veterans.”

Can you camp overnight?
“People can camp at Addison Oaks County Park north of Rochester or Groveland Oaks County
Park, which is just down the road from Holly Oaks ORV Park.
We have campers who stay for a few days, a week, or longer.
The parks have cabins and yurts for rent; There’s more availability Monday-Thursdays or they
can bring an RV, trailer, pop-up or tent.
Once you’re at the campground there’s so much to do like fishing, boating, swimming
(Groveland Oaks only) and our popular Campground Recreation program. We have theme
weekends and activities for all ages.”

What are some popular events/programs in Oakland County Parks? What are some newer and/or lesser-known programs?
“The Oakland County Farmers Market is busy during the summer with people buying fresh
produce, plants and more. The market is unique in that it also hosts special events and programs. The Community Garage Sales will be July 17 and Sept. 18. Shoppers will find a variety of gently
used household items for sale as well as direct vendors and Mom2Mom sellers.
Oakland Uncorked is an annual celebration of the season’s harvest. This year’s event is set from
7-10 pm Friday, Aug. 26 at the Oakland County Farmers Market. Oakland Uncorked showcases
the talents of local restaurants, wine distributors, craft beer brewers and artists. Cost is
$50/person; must be 21 or older.
Our two nature centers are hidden gems – Wint Nature Center at Independence Oaks and Red
Oaks Nature Center at Red Oaks. Both host programs year-round and host Trail Hikes with a
Naturalist by appointment. It’s an enriching experience to hike with a naturalist compared to on
your own. They can point out interesting things in a fun way so that kids and adults learn
something new. It makes you look at your surroundings with fresh eyes.”

Do you offer any inclusive programs and/or amenities at the parks for people of varying abilities?
“Inclusion services are offered so that individuals with disabilities can participate in any program
or event hosted by Oakland County Parks and Recreation.
A certified therapeutic recovery specialist coordinates programs for individuals with disabilities
and provides training to staff and volunteers to assist individuals during general recreation
programs. For additional information, call (248) 221-8040 or email adaptive@oakgov.com.
A new program that has been hugely popular is Disability Dirt Days at Holly Oaks ORV Park.
The event pairs attendees with a driver so they can explore the park’s features. The next events in
the series are September 25 and October 23.
For additional information or to reserve your spot, text or call (248) 221-8040 or email adaptive@oakgov.com.
Another fun series is kayaking workshops to get people out onto our lakes.
Sign up for a 1.5-hour spot. For questions, contact Carrie Gerdeman at (586) 268-4160, ext. 6627
or CGerdeman@DNEMichigan.org. The next dates are July 22 and August 12.
The parks system also offers adaptive equipment. “

Do all parks have a lake or water for swimming.
“In addition to the two waterparks, there are swimming beaches at Groveland Oaks County Park
and Independence Oaks County Park.”

What else would you like people to know about the parks and activities for the summer?
“There’s literally something fun for anyone to do at any time. The parks are a great place to
decompress, get back to nature and spend time with family and friends.”

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