New parks manager getting set for summer of fun

by Paul Rignell
Contributing writer

The city of Otsego’s first paid manager of parks and recreation has been at his job for six weeks, and he looks forward to his continuing role this summer in building a program that has strong roots and support from community volunteers.

Ross Demant, a native of Duluth, has joined Otsego city staff after crossing the border from Elk River, where he worked for seven years in parks and recreation. He completed a degree in occupational therapy from Lake Superior College in Duluth, and began his career as a recreation assistant at the state correctional facility in Moose Lake. He later worked more than five years as a recreation coordinator for the city of Duluth before his wife, Dawn, accepted an oncology nurse position at Coborn’s Cancer Center in St. Cloud. The couple moved to Becker where they live with their daughter, McKenzie, 15, and son, Colten, 12, both of whom are active in youth athletics.

Music, magic and more this summer
Demant is promoting many recreation programs in Otsego, but the city’s unofficial season kickoff is the grand opening of the splash pad at Prairie Park, behind City Hall at 8899 Nashua Ave. N.E. The festivities will open at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14.

Residents of all ages will have the chance to test their pitching arms that night, as Mayor Jessica Stockamp has agreed to risk getting drenched in a dunk tank, Demant told the Star News. The Wright County K-9 unit will show examples of its public safety duties in a demonstration at 5:30 p.m., and a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter is scheduled to land at 7 p.m. Between the thrills of the dogs and the helicopter, the Teddy Bear Band will perform and entertain for most of the 6 p.m. hour.

Scheduled family entertainment will continue at Prairie Park through most weeks into July. Evening shows on the calendar include a Dojo Karate demonstration June 20, Mary Hall and her musical “Show for Pipsqueeks” June 27 and comedy magician Star Michaelina July 11. All dates are Wednesdays, with performances starting 6:30 p.m.

Children’s events 10 a.m. Tuesdays at Prairie Park include presentations from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center June 19, the Eastman Nature Center June 26, comedy magician Brian Richards July 10, the Minnesota Zoo’s Zoomobile July 17 and The Bazillions’ brand of “kid-friendly rock-n-roll” July 24.

Attendance at those events can come on a spur-of-the-moment decision, but Demant requests that families wanting to register children for June and July T-ball programs or soccer clinics submit their information and make payments by June 1.

T-ball games will be played Monday and Wednesday evenings, June 18 through July 23 (excluding July 2 and 4), at School Knoll Park, 15501 83rd St. N.E., and Frankfort Park, 5500 Randolph Ave. N.E. Parents can join children ages 3–4 in T-ball from 5:30–6:15 p.m., while games for children ages 5–6 will be played from 5:30–7:30 p.m. T-ball registration is $29.

Soccer clinics, where child participants will learn fundamental skills and play scrimmages, meet Tuesday and Thursday mornings June 19 through July 26 (excluding July 3 and 5). Children ages 4–6 may register for clinics from either 9–9:45 a.m. or 10–10:45 a.m. Children ages 7–9 have clinics from 11–11:45 a.m. Soccer registration is $25.

Forms are available at City Hall during the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday, and online at Demant welcomes questions by phone at 763-235-3155 or email at  [email protected]

He hopes to introduce flag football and a community 5K event next fall, and reopen ice rinks in some Otsego parks next winter.

“I consider myself very fortunate. There are just a lot of possibilities here,” Demant told the Star News. “The different staff and city council members have been very good to work with. People have been very helpful. I think (this program) is going to grow. We have a really good crew.”