Spring. Finally.

And many events scheduled for I Love Burnsville Week — which started Saturday and runs through next Saturday — will get people outdoors.

According to Burnsville Recreation and Facilities Superintendent J.J. Ryan, city employees launched the event in 2008 after a staff meeting where they were discussing various spring activities.

"It was like, 'We're all doing something. Should we call it something?' " Ryan said. "We want people to know about all of these great things that are going on."

Here are some fun outdoor events scheduled for the week:


This year Burnsville shows off new pickleball courts at North River Hills Park.

"There are quite a few snowbirds who have discovered pickleball," Ryan said. "We've had such a demand. They want to stay sharp and want to continue to play so when they get back to their winter homes they won't be rusty."

"I call it pingpong on steroids," said Jerry Maas, volunteer ambassador of the Southwest Metro Pickleball Club, who will teach an introduction to pickleball session on Monday.

The game, invented in 1965 when a Bainbridge Island family couldn't find the shuttlecock for badminton, takes place on badminton-sized courts with a whiffle ball and paddles. The sport has exploded in popularity, especially among seniors, many of them former racquetball or tennis enthusiasts. It's inexpensive, social and "good exercise for seniors — reaching, stretching, moving," Maas said.

Maas said three years ago, there were few places to play in the Twin Cities, but now there are more than 50. The Southwest Metro Pickleball Club alone, he said, now has 163 members.

"It's touted as America's fastest-growing sport," he said.

Nature walk for seniors

A June 4 nature walk at Kelleher Park will take seniors on a paved loop through oak savannah and past wetlands.

"I'm hoping that we may hear some frogs calling," said natural resources technician Liz Forbes, who will lead the hike. That will be more likely on an overcast day, she said, but even if it's sunny, she said she will bring her iPod preloaded with frog calls.

"We will talk about anything from plants that are currently in bloom to birds," she said, adding that, because of spring migrations, they should observe a variety of birds.

Burnsville receives funding to hold year-round activities for residents 62 and older, and the walk is one of several during the year in various nature areas.


FridayFest features the reopening of the playground at Cliff Fen Park.

In November, the city removed the old wooden playground equipment, built in 1990, which had outlived its 20-year life span. The local Lion's Club donated $50,000 to help fund the new playground, with five towers connected by bridges.

"Cliff Fen Park has been one of our most popular playgrounds," recreation supervisor Garrett Beck said. "The number of play elements is significantly higher. The space is probably around 1½ times larger."

Though weather delays have stalled the project a bit, Beck said the city is "doing everything and anything we can" to have it ready for the June 7 event.

During FridayFest, visitors can also watch a showing of the winners of the new "I Love Burnsville" video contest and "Jack and Jill," the first outdoor movie of the season.

Other I Love Burnsville Week events include a 5K, a walk with the mayor, spring appliance and electronics drop-off, a softball tournament, Buck Hill mountain bike races, golf tournaments, the Rhythm and Words Family Music and Book Festival, a police and fire safety workshop for seniors, and open houses throughout the city.

For more information, visit www.burnsville.org.

Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.