Thomas Moran | Arts and Life Editor
Waco Parks and Recreation Department has been hosting Cameron Park “Wild Wednesdays” since the beginning of June and will continue through the end of August. Each Wednesday, participants congregate at 6 p.m. at the Redwood Shelter in Cameron Park for an hour-long hike.
The popular park among locals and students is about a 10-minute drive from campus and features a complex trail system, picnic and event areas and disk golf courses.
Arianna Jacinto, Cameron Park frequenter and Waco park ranger, gained her passion for the outdoors in Kenai, Alaska. After coming to Waco for school, Jacinto interned with the Waco Park Rangers and created Cameron Park Wild Wednesdays. She later became a full-time park ranger and now leads the hiking group every Wednesday.
“The hike is an hour long guided hike in the trails of Cameron Park,” Jacinto said. “I created this hike series last summer as a part of my internship and it ended up being pretty popular so we decided to try it again this summer.”
The size of the group varies from week to week, Jacinto said. Some weeks there are larger groups with more than 20 people and other weeks its smaller with two or three participants. Regardless of size, the park rangers and Waco Parks and Rec are always eager to engage with the Waco public.
Gatesville native Mary Alexopoulos participates in Cameron Park Wild Wednesdays. Hiking with Jacinto and others helped her familiarize herself with the trails and learn more about the park, sustainability and more.
“I enjoyed meeting the others and talking with them on the hike,” Alexopoulos said. “I feel it is important to participate in city programs because of the time and resources it takes for the city to put on events for the local citizens to enjoy.”
“We have a whole list of fall programs coming up,” Jacinto said. “In September we have 12:00 p.m. hikes Tuesday and Thurday, 5:30 p.m. Kayaking Thursdays, Wellness Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m., like hikes but a little more intense, and in October we are starting up another session of the Junior Ranger Program.”
Kim Jennings, the City of Waco Park Ranger Supervisor directs most of the ranger activities including Wild Wednesdays. In her view, engaging with the public and encouraging locals to utilize the local parks is a priority.
“We do want to connect with the public,” Jennings said. “We want to show them how to use the parks properly if they have any questions about where they can go, what they can do or can’t. We want to serve as a liason between the department and between the different park users.”
Jacinto encourages Baylor students to attend the last few Wild Wednesdays and other like events off-campus.
“It’s a great way to meet members of the community and see what Waco is really like outside of campus life,” Jacinto said.
For more information about Wild Wednesdays and other events, visit the Waco Parks and Recreation Facebook page.