The DeKalb Park District is excited to introduce its new mascot, Ronnie the River Otter! Ronnie was swimming along the Kishwaukee River when he noticed all the fun happening in Hopkins Park and decided to join the team. Ronnie is a playful otter, passionate about the environment, and loves to spend just as much time on land as he does in the water. Native to Northern Illinois, Ronnie is thrilled river otters were recently removed from the State’s threatened species list in 2004.
“The river otter is an Illinois conservation success story with their numbers now flourishing,” commented Superintendent of Parks, Mat Emken. “It’s been great spotting more river otters in DeKalb lately. I’ve seen them along the riverbed at both Hopkins and Prairie Park.”
Staff are looking forward to having Ronnie pop by events and programs unexpectedly! By using Ronnie to engage a younger audience in DeKalb, the Park District hopes to encourage more families to get involved in programs and live a healthier lifestyle by utilizing amenities available to them. Sedentary lifestyles are on the rise and causing unprecedented levels of health issues like chronic disease and childhood obesity. Only one in three children are physically active every day (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009) and according to the recommended guidelines, 80% of adolescents do not get enough aerobic physical activity (President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, 2011). Ronnie will also help draw attention to offerings like the Park Watch Program and seasonal Park Clean-Up Days.
Ronnie made his debut appearance on the DeKalb Park District float at the October 31 Pumpkin Fest Parade in Sycamore, IL. He popped up again at the November 6 Pumpkin Smash ‘N’ Bash at the Hopkins Park Sled Hill and staff are looking forward to seeing Ronnie join in the winter festival fun at the 7th Annual Polar-palooza event on February 5.
“It’s pretty neat kids are already responding to Ronnie. He received his first letter in the mail from a young child wanting his autograph,” said Executive Director, John Shea, Jr. “We can’t wait for more people to meet him!”
If you’d like to send correspondence, learn more about Ronnie, or any other DeKalb Park District offerings, please visit dekalbparkdistrict.com or call (815) 758-6663.
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