Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department plans virtual food, drink programs

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group
Alyssa Massey is a game guide for Kingmakers, a Columbus company that coordinates virtual and in-person games and beer and wine-tasting events. Kingsmakers will coordinate a virtual beer-tasting Feb. 25 for the Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department.

The Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department through early March will continue to offer virtual programming for adults, which will include cooking demonstrations and a happy hour-style beer tasting via Zoom.

Because of restrictions set for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the department has turned to the internet to serve residents with the ongoing closure of the Upper Arlington Senior Center and the cancellation of tradition programs.

"I'm having a great time," said Connie Kontras, a senior center member since 2004 who has participated in virtual programs ranging from history and literature, to music and yoga. 

Kontras said she watches the programs on her phone through an app provided by the department. 

"In the summer, I just called in and listened to the classes," she said. "I was missing all my music instruction, and my instruction in all my other classes.

"I needed to see things, and I needed to see all the people, too. It's opened up a new world to me." 

That will continue through at least March 2, as the department’s activity guide has been supplemented with cooking demonstrations and a virtual beer tasting.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is still reach people during the pandemic,” said Matt Leber, the city’s recreation superintendent. “We’ve done that by adding some virtual programs.

“It’s been a pretty effective tool for creating outreach.”

Online registration can be completed at parks.uaoh.net

The department will hold Sip & Play, a virtual happy hour for those 21 and older, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 25. The registration deadline is Feb. 18. 

The program is being provided by Kingmakers, a Columbus company that coordinates virtual and in-person games and beer and wine-tasting events as company team-building activities. 

For $65, participants will be delivered six different beers from Columbus-based Wolf’s Ridge Brewing. 

Kingmakers owner Malika Jacobs said the Upper Arlington events, including the debut Jan. 28, are the first time Sip & Play will be offered to the public.

“This experience has been incredible to see companies be able to experience this type of engagement through this type of event,” Jacobs said. “This is a way for individuals to get the same chance to do something social and engaging in the safety of your home.”

Another adult event is the “A Taste of New Orleans” from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 2. Those who register in advance for the $35 class will be provided an ingredient and supply list, and then can tune in for demonstrations by Annette Bellisari Johnon, president of Upper Arlington-based Bellisari’s Gourmet Convenience.

Johnson will demonstrate how to make muffuletta dip, barbeque shrimp served over smoked gouda cheese grits, as well as crawfish Monica, served with shrimp-stuffed mirlitons.

Other events include a Friday Night Family Cooking demonstration led by Marisa Barsotti and a Light and Easy Mediterranean Dinner instructed by Sheila Gibbons.

Friday Night Family Cooking will be 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 19, with registration by Feb. 12, and from 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 26, with registration by Feb. 19. The cost for each session is $40, and ingredients for the meal will be available for pick up in advance.  

The Light and Easy Mediterranean Dinner event will take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. March 2 and costs $35. Participants will receive a supply list in advance of the class and purchase them separately.

Leber said in addition to the food and beverage events, the department has sought to expand both in-person and virtual fitness and social event programming for adults throughout the pandemic.

“Before (the pandemic), some in-person class spaces were limited,” he said. “We’ve been able to serve a lot more people and, for some, it’s been more convenient.

“We've got programs that would interest everyone, and we encourage people to browse our activity guide for something that will help make their winter season more enriching and fun.”

The programs also are open to those who don't live in Upper Arlington. 

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate