Resident invents PSL Park Challenge, riding her bike to all 46 City parks
By Maureen Kenyon, Social Media Coordinator and Digital Storyteller
Leslie Kingsley loves Port St. Lucie.
She loves it so much, in fact, she decided to explore – on two wheels -- each of the City’s 46 parks.
Kingsley, a retired English and reading teacher, created a bike route, the PSL Park Challenge, and she’s hoping it encourages other residents to visit Port St. Lucie’s parks, too.
The idea came to Kingsley, 62, while she was reading Leisure Time, the bi-annual catalog of events, programs and classes hosted by Parks & Recreation.
“I looked on the inside cover, and there was a map with all the parks on it, and I said, ‘Oh, we’ve gotta do this,’ ” she said. “We’ve already gone to everybody’s house, we’ve already gone here, gone there, so what are we going to do now?”
Kingsley made the weekly treks with her friend, Teresita Smith, 55, also an avid cyclist. When they looked at the map, they thought it would take four days to hit all 46 parks.
“Yeah right,” Kingsley said, laughing.
Instead, it took them about two months, but they didn’t mind.
The PSL Park Challenge gave Kingsley and Smith lots of time to chat, catch up on each other’s lives and enjoy the outdoors.
“We just had a blast,” Kingsley said.
At first, the pair biked to Woodland Trails and Jessica Clinton parks, located near their homes off Becker Road.
Then, once or twice a week, they’d ride a little farther, once hitting more than 10 parks in one outing.
“Then we started to use the map on our phones, and realized, ‘Oh, that was 20 miles. We can go 20 miles,’ ” she said. “It didn’t frighten us anymore.”
Soon, they were riding to Milner Drive Tot Lot and McCarty Ranch Preserve, both more than 30 miles roundtrip.
Eventually, Kingsley and Smith want to spend a day at McCarty Ranch, riding some of the more challenging bike trails.
Each park is special in its own way, Kingsley said.
Some parks are just a lake with benches, while others are home to hearty biking and walking trails. Some even have campgrounds and greenspaces.
Some of their favorites are Oak Hammock, O.L. Peacock Sr. and River Place parks and Woodstork Trail, Kingsley said. They’ve spotted deer, alligators, otters, snakes and even a bald eagle.
When the pair finished the PSL Parks Challenge in mid-May, Kingsley typed an email to Sherman Conrad, director of Parks & Recreation.
“I wanted you to know how much I appreciate the Parks and Rec Department and the City of PSL for the fantastic good job you are doing for its citizens,” she wrote.
The City’s wide sidewalks are a plus, too, Kingsley wrote.
“Not only were the parks all wonderful, but also sidewalks throughout the city are nice and wide, and we had very little trouble navigating busy intersections,” she wrote. “Kudos to all of you making this a great place to live.”
Kingsley also acknowledged the kindness of City employees.
“Every single employee was so polite and would proudly suggest another park to check out,” she wrote. “You could really tell they had pride in their jobs.”
Patricia Roberts, deputy director of Parks & Recreation, emailed an appreciation message to Kingsley, writing, in part: “We are so glad that you enjoy our parks and our staff. The energy that you emanate as you enjoy our facilities and parks is contagious and I truly hope that others are inspired by your positive spirit.”
If residents are interested in trying to complete the challenge, Kingsley recommends mapping it out and then breaking up the trip into sections.
“Hit your local ones first,” she said. “Whether they ride bikes, or whether they walk, or whether they take their car, just visit them.
“Most people might not be able to ride to McCarty, but drive out there and spend the whole day,” Kingsley added. “The parks are so beautiful.”