The year 2020 has been tough all around, but it was a particularly tough year for the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department.

With most facilities, including playgrounds, closed for much of the year and large gatherings outlawed, providing recreational opportunities required a lot of creativity.

According to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department did a stellar job and was awarded the 2020 National Gold Award for Excellence at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at the NRPA annual conference.

Greensboro has had an award winning Parks and Recreation Department for decades, and in that long history of being one of the best, Greensboro has only won this top honor three other times, in 1979, 1987 and 2002. Of course, those other three times the winners could celebrate at an actual awards ceremony instead of virtual one. Somehow popping a virtual champagne cork just doesn’t have the same appeal.

Greensboro Parks and Recreation Director Nasha McCray said, “This has been a particularly challenging year, working to meet the needs of the community during the pandemic. Winning this award shows not only the impact we have on the community but how much we are dedicated to this profession. It makes me proud to work with the Greensboro Parks and Recreation staff every day.”

The NRPA National Gold Medal Award covers a lot more than a single year. The National Gold Award recognizes parks and recreation departments that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering services, something that was certainly required this year.

The other finalists in the population 150,000 to 400,000 category were Henderson, Nevada, Tampa, Florida and Des Moines, Iowa.

The Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department moved this week to new offices at 301 S. Greene Street, Suite 300. The city sold Maple Street Building the Parks and Recreation Department had called home to Guilford County in March. The Maple Street Building on the corner of Maple Street and Fourth Street was originally an office for Cone Mills and had been donated to the city.