Three cheers for Parks & Trails New York's "I Love My Park Because" photo contest.
What a great way to give New Yorkers a chance to show why they do, indeed, love their public parks - and to perhaps inspire others to venture out to see for themselves what the fun is all about.
With Long Point, Lake Erie and Allegany state parks in our region as well as scores of city, town and village parks, we ought to have plenty of entries from the Chautauqua region.
You do not have to be an ace photographer to win - you just need to be able to show why you love your public park. The rules from Parks & Trails New York are simple:
Take a photo of yourself in any public park in the state holding a sign that says why you love your park.
One word might be all you need, or you might need a few. It's up to you.
Get creative. You can say it with just words, or you can add drawings.
Get family and friends involved - group photos are great, too.
Photo entries should be sent by Aug. 31 to firstname.lastname@example.org along with contact information and the name of the park. There are three chances to win prizes: PTNY will pick its overall favorite photo and the most original photo, along with one random winner from all eligible entries. Prizes include camping gear from REI. Winners will be announced in September. For more information and examples of the types of photos you might submit, visit www.ptny.org/showparkslove
Parks & Trails New York bills itself at New York's leading statewide advocate for parks and trails. It is dedicated to improving our health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space. And it is that aspect of the photo contest that seems so appealing - we mean the sharing of your love of a local park in hopes of spurring others to venture outdoors and take their children with them.
"Parks protect natural resources, boost local economies, and give people a place to hike, swim, learn, relax and recharge. The 'I Love My Park Because' photo contest is an exciting new way to tap into that love and enthusiasm and generate greater awareness about all the benefits we receive from these treasured places," said Robin Dropkin, executive director of Parks & Trails.
Use it or lose it is such a cliche we hardly pay attention when someone intones it. But the reality is that, yes, we can imagine a day when so few people make use of parks that it becomes a waste of money to keep them open.
It is up to those of us who love our public parks to make sure that never happens.