Although it wasn’t much of a secret, Coca-Cola officially awarded Lynbrook’s Greis Veterans Memorial Park third place in its “America is Your Park” campaign — and a $25,000 grant — on Sept. 30.
The contest, which ran from early June through the end of July, attracted nearly 12,000 national, state and local parks around the country. The staff of the Lynbrook Recreation Department, which operates in Greis Park, led the park’s campaign and organized a community voting effort.
Unlike many other parks in the country, which prepared campaigns ahead of the contest launch, the Lynbrook recreation staff didn’t become aware of the contest until a week after it began. Despite the disadvantage, Recreation Department Director Pat McDermott and his staffers, Ginger Fitzer-Fuentes, Pat Ciampi and Andrea Campbell, thought that making a push for Greis Park was worth a shot.
They began spreading the word by posting information on the department’s Facebook page, distributing fliers and sending out email blasts. “We were just hoping to get in the top 25,” Ciampi said. “That was the goal.”
People could accumulate points for their parks — in the form of votes — in three ways: voting each day on Coke’s website was worth one vote, “checking in” at the park on the social networking site Foursquare was worth five votes, and linking a park to your activity on the website MapMyFitness yielded 10 votes.
According to Fitzer-Fuentes, Greis Park first appeared on the leader board at 89th place, and then started rising. McDermott said that the summer help staff played a big role in getting the word out and encouraging people to vote. “Honestly, without all their hard work,” he said of the summer help staff, “we would’ve never been where we wound up.”
Patti Obanhein, who has worked at the Lynbrook pool in Greis Park for the past six summers, played a key role in the park’s climb up the leader board. McDermott said that Obanhein, a Lynbrook resident who is now a senior a SUNY Cortland, organized her fellow staffers to explain the voting system to park users.