Greenbrook’s Gerald Risen provided a few moments of comedy to his fellow players during Bingo For All.
“What do you call a cow with no legs?” Risen asked the group of 15 people participating in the Bingo event Jan. 24 at Greenbrook Adventure Park.
“Ground beef,” he answered.
It was the first time Risen and his wife, Nancy Pfaadt participated in Lakewood Ranch Community Activity’s weekly bingo. They wanted an opportunity to get to know fellow Lakewood Ranch residents while having fun doing an activity.
Pfaadt said she loved the camaraderie and social aspect of participating in Bingo.
Lakewood Ranch Community Activities is working to address residents’ desires for programming as more people are getting involved in the various programs the nonprofit provides. Participation has sharply increased after the pandemic eased.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Lakewood Ranch Community Activities hosted programs and events with an abundance of caution to ensure residents’ safety. Chris McComas who provides programming for Lakewood Ranch Community Activities said more people are ready to be more active in the community.
“Two years ago there was a lot of uncertainty in the air," McComas said. "That uncertainty seems to be gone, and people are ready to participate in programming and to socialize.”
Lakewood Ranch Community Activities is shifting toward holding its Bingo, field bocce, adult tennis and casual cornhole year-round on a weekly basis. Those programs have been shut down in the summer months in previous years.
McComas said the programs started with small numbers of participants but now have built to include dozens of participants each week. In the past, when a program was shut down for a month or more, the numbers would plummet and it would take time to build participation after the program began again.
McComas hopes having the programs available more consistently will lead to steady participation.
McComas said Bingo, field bocce, casual cornhole and adult tennis not only saw the highest numbers of participation, but they are located in various areas of Lakewood Ranch including Greenbrook Adventure Park, Waterside Place and Summerfield Community Park.
When Waterside Place was nearing the end of its construction, programs were moved there to showcase the new community. Programs and events such as sunset volleyball and Ranch Nite Wednesdays were always meant to be at Waterside Place. McComas said residents now will see some programs moved back to other parks such as Bob Gardner Community Park, Summerfield Community Park and Greenbrook Adventure Park.
“Lakewood Ranch is very large, you’re as south as Sarasota with Waterside and as north as (State Road) 64, so we have to be sure and mindful to hit all of our parks in between so it’s easy access for every resident of Lakewood Ranch,” McComas said.
As Premier Park continues to develop, McComas hopes to have Lakewood Ranch Community Activities programming available at the park, but it depends on how the park progresses.
Besides making programs more consistent and accessible, McComas said there are new programs available such as jazzercise at Waterside Park or the silver circuit program at Summerfield Community Park.
Lakewood Ranch Community Activities also is testing programs that might be considered a bit more offbeat, such as Bachata Dance at Waterside, Gardening Basics at the Greenbrook Adventure Park, and Intro to Phone Photography at James Patton Park.
McComas said they always are looking to create programs that meet residents’ wants and needs. For example, he said the core group of participants from the strength, mobility and balance class wanted a class involving exercise bands, so the parks department created the Silver Circuit Program.