This article originally appeared in the April 2021 edition of Senior Scope. Article by Christine Sullivan and Seth Thomas. Photo by Seth Thomas.

The days are getting longer and warmer weather will soon follow. If you are ready to get out of the house, it’s a great time to explore New Bedford.

Mary Rapoza, Director of New Bedford’s Parks, Recreation & Beaches Department, intends to have numerous offerings for those looking to get outside this spring and summer. However, she stressed that what’s available for the public will depend largely on the state of the pandemic.

“It’s important for folks to understand that everything is contingent upon what COVID looks like at the time,” she explained. “We’re making plans now, but as the summer unfolds, we’ll be paying attention to the state’s protocols, and we’ll be following those.”

However, she said she’s heard from the public, and the message is clear: people are looking for outdoor activities following this especially difficult winter.

“This summer, it’s my intention to get our staff in the parks so that families can have some activities and some staff to engage with,” she said. Below are a few options to consider as the weather warms.

Nature Trails

Stroll through Buttonwood Park and enjoy budding trees and emerging flowers, or explore one of the three marked Nature Trails:

  • Flore B. Pierce Nature Trail: Follow the one-mile long trail, beginning on Falmouth Street in the North End
  • Ross C. Mathieu Nature Trail: A one-mile long trail that begins in the parking lot behind Pulaski School
  • Ricketson’s Nature Trail: Winding forest pathways located in Brooklawn Park with parking along Brooklawn Avenue

And remember that the New Bedford Wellness Initiative gathers at Buttonwood Park on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. for a group walk. Check out page 5 for more information.

Outdoor Sports

The finishing touches are underway at the highly anticipated bowling greens located at Hazelwood Park. Rapoza said the greens should be ready for players later this summer. Once the project is completed, the public will be able to schedule a time to play lawn bowling or croquet, and the Parks & Rec Department intends to host clinics for new players.

Indoor pickle ball, which operated out of the Andrea McCoy Recreation Center, was suspended after the center became a COVID-19 vaccination site in February. However, the sport will resume outdoors this spring at Buttonwood Park. You can sign-up for pickleball on the New Bedford Parks & Rec website or by calling 508-961-3015.

Have a Beach Day

Ready to go to the beach? Senior residents of New Bedford are eligible for discounted beach parking stickers. Adults age 65 and older can enjoy a whole season (beach season is May 15 to Sept. 15) of beach parking for only $5.

To purchase a beach pass, visit one of the following locations, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:

  • Parks, Recreation & Beaches admin office: 181 Hillman St., Bldg. 3.
  • City Clerk’s Office, City Hall, 133 William St.
  • Traffic Commission, Elm Street Garage, 51 Elm St.

A vehicle registration is required when purchasing a seasonal pass. Cash only. West Beach is seasonal pass only and handicap accessible.

Summer Jobs

Rapoza said the department will continue to accept applications until positions are filled, and older adults are encouraged to apply.

“We have supervisory, part-time and full-time roles,” said Rapoza. “If seniors are looking for something to do this summer, they should consider submitting an application for one of our positions.”

The New Bedford Age Friendly project teams have been working hard to make sure there are plenty of fitness and wellness opportunities for residents of all ages.

Programs are added and updated continually, so feel free to call New Bedford Department of Parks, Recreation and Beaches for the latest information at 508-961-3015.

Visit the New Bedford Parks and Recreation website at:


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