Popular time at Great Parks Fest

       The second year of the Great Parks Festival again drew more than 1,000 people, according to estimates.

Dan Spring (left) brought several of his snakes to the Great Parks Festival Sept. 24 and let the public try petting and holding them, in some cases to get over a fear of snakes. Around his neck is Remy, a big ball python. Helping him were John Wickham (with a boa constrictor named Sinequan - the biggest of Spring's snakes at 24 pounds) and Tammy Smith (with a boa named Goliath). Spring, who rescues reptiles, had been put in touch with the festival through the area Dreampower organization, according to Todd Marts, director of El Paso County Parks' Bear Creek and Fountain Creek nature centers.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The free four-hour event, intended to celebrate the parks offerings throughout the county, presented a variety of educational and/or play activities in the area of Bear Creek Regional Park just west of 21st Street.
       Examples included tennis, soccer, kite-flying, a GPS game, frisbee golf, a petting zoo and a snake-handling opportunity. “As we plan for year three, we'll try to be even more creative how best to use the space available and get kids and families 'moving,'” said Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, which organized the event with El Paso County Parks.
       The snake-handling was made available by an informal group led by Dan Spring, who said he's been a snake-lover since he was a kid. “My mom said I could have a pet if I could catch it myself,” he recalled, adding with a grin that after his mother saw what he caught she wished she'd spoken differently.
       Spring said he also gets involved in rescuing any kinds of reptiles that need homes.

Westside Pioneer article