HARRY GRIFFEN PARK – The promised event of this Saturday in the park was a community health walk. Turns out it was much more.
The gathering, though lightly attended, began with a world class athlete teaching us how to stretch and was followed by a charming guide who both learned and taught the history of this suburban pocket park even as he led the residents through the woods. All of which was followed by sun-drenched refreshments with residents, community leaders and experts talking about the health of the park and its human visitors.
This “Ready, Set, Live Well’’ event occurred here in the Harry Griffen Park and simultaneously at Lamar Park in Spring Valley and was aimed at encouraging residents to support healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
The Harry Griffen event began with La Mesa resident Rebecca Jackman giving exercise advice. She should know. Jackman guides the City of La Mesa Recreation efforts, but she is best known for a swim she made in 2003. From France to England. Across the English Channel! 12 hours or so!
Today’s event was not nearly so taxing. The group stretched a bit and then joined Juan Ramirez of Walk San Diego for a 30 minute stroll through the surprisingly diverse and pleasant paths that crisscross the 53-acre park.
Ramirez, a graduate student and recent immigrant from Tijuana, explained San Diego Walk group’s desire to help local residents work with school and civic officials to identify and help eliminate the safety threats that keep our communities from being more easily walked. The group’s guiding principles and membership information is available at www.walksandiego.org.
The highlight of the Ramirez-led walk was the sighting of a Great Blue Heron hunting successfully on the park’s northern edge.
Also at the walk was La Mesa resident Robin Rivet, a master gardener and arborist who prepared a self-guided tree walk of the park that is filled with enough detail to appreciate the richness of flora around us all. Her guide includes details and advice. “Number 16. Star Pine – Araucaria heterophylla” begins with this warning: “Look out below! At Quail Gardens, a variety of this Genus is cordoned off to prevent injuries from its 10 – 15 pound falling cones.”
After the exercise, the 35 or so walkers were refreshed with drinks, snacks and gifted with Padres promotional hacky-sacks.
The Harry Griffen walk was attended by a number of local dignitaries, including La Mesa City Council members Ernest Ewin and Dave Allan and members of La Mesa’s Youth Commission.