Parking and admission fees for Connecticut’s 107 state parks have been waived for the weekend of July 26 to celebrate the state parks centennial.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced “Free State Parks Weekend” Wednesday during a visit to Sleeping Giant State Park, Hamden.
“This coming weekend, all parking and museum fees will be waived,” said Malloy, who added that camping fees will not be waived.
As park rangers and volunteers looked on, Malloy, wearing a casual shirt and jeans, fondly shared his experience of visiting Silver Sands State Park in Milford as a child.
The state of Connecticut is currently investing $60 million in infrastructure, which includes the state parks, said Commissioner Robert Klee of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. This money is going towards rebuilding boathouses, developing campgrounds, and eventually installing charging stations for electric cars, said Klee, who joined Malloy at the press conference.
State parks in Connecticut gross an average of $120,000 in admission fees per weekend, which is roughly the amount that will be lost this weekend, Klee said.
Connecticut is focusing on promoting itself internally, in areas such as tourism.
This park and many others allow people to develop a “connection with the local community,” Klee said.
Hamden Mayor Scott D. Jackson grew up in Hamden, but never had the chance to visit the park as a child.
“I didn’t get here until I was 18, which is really a shame,” Jackson said.
He said he appreciates the park’s beauty, especially now that he is parent.
“I remember the first time my son hiked all the way to the top,” Jackson said.
Klee, who graduated from Yale University, agrees.
“Sleeping Giant has a special place in my heart,” he said.
In addition to hiking, Connecticut’s state parks provide activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, and ice-skating, which the governor joked that citizens “would not be doing this weekend.”
Besides discounts, pamphlets containing stories of each park’s individual history will be handed out at the gate.
DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen shared a short history of Sleeping Giant.
“It was originally for a mining project,” said Whalen, who added that local activists successfully opposed a detonation project at the park almost a century ago. “It’s a lucky thing that it was stopped before they blew off the head!”
The state parks in Connecticut were first established in 1913, with Sherwood Island being the first.
State officials said they hope the waiving of fees will help to provide a “safe and exciting experience” over the weekend.
“This really is a shining star,” Jackson said.
Elizabeth Perry is a journalist student in our summer workshop at Quinnipiac University and a junior at Cheshire High School.
Elizabeth Perry is a student journalist attending C-HIT’s workshop at Quinnipiac University. She is a junior at Cheshire High School.