If you were in Midtown last Friday afternoon, you may have caught a glimpse of our SPEAR teams racing across the avenues in brightly colored shirts, snapping pictures with NYC traffic officers or searching fruit vendor carts for boxes of lychees. The flurry of activity was for our photo scavenger hunt, one of the new additions to this year’s Picnic in the Park, an event that SPEAR has held annually in Central Park for the last 5 years.
Originally designed as a way to recharge and thank team members for their hard work, the first SPEAR picnic, held in 2008, began as a group kickball outing. “We used to have it in Sheep Meadow,” said co-founder and 56th Street therapist Dave Endres. “Back then our group wasn’t as big. We wanted to have something that would bring the staff together for a day of fun, to celebrate the year and our growth.”
Since then the picnic has grown into a full-blown competitive event, with clinical and administrative staff representing each location to vie for the SPEAR Cup.
The trophy, in previous years, was a toy dinosaur labeled “Picnic in the Park Champions” with toy penguins glued to its back to signify each year’s winner.
44th Street, the brawny champions of the 2011 and 2012 picnics, still house the dinosaur at their front desk. For two years the group dominated events like the egg toss, planking, and the team medley relay which included a 3-legged race, crab walk, wheel barrow, and a dizzy bat sprint.
This year, the trophy was upgraded to an actual champions cup, and with each location notified that the competition would include a scavenger hunt and NYC trivia round (thanks to the organizational prowess of 56th Street‘s clinical director Kelly Althaus and therapist Kasey Johnson), the stage was set for a fun day of fierce competition.
84th Street’s “Underdog” team costumes and 44th Street’s “T-Rex” team costumes.
“Everyone enjoys it,” said 84th Street‘s Jesse Cullen-Dupont about the picnic. “Getting everyone together and letting everyone let loose a little bit is great. I thought the scavenger hunt was a nice twist this year. I think our chances of winning next year are very, very good. We’re going to hire an army of PT aides with gentle hands to help with the egg toss.”
The wheelbarrow leg of our medley relay.
Co-founder and president, Dan Rootenberg, looks forward to the picnic every summer. “I think the day lets us appreciate what we’ve built so far and sets us up for an enthusiastic second half of the year.”
Along with strengthening team bonds (it takes a lot of trust to successfully run across a field on your hands with a teammate holding onto your legs), the picnic also strengthens SPEAR’s resolve to keep NYC active and healthy. The entire day is devoted to moving around and having fun (and of course winning the trophy), which is what keeps the people who keep NYC moving, moving.
16th Street’s Jason Kang, Erica Rosa, and Lisa Yirce during our planking competition.
56th Street‘s clinical director and therapist Kelly Althaus, who has been organizing the picnic since 2011, loved the group’s enthusiasm this year. “Kasey gets all the credit for the scavenger hunt,” said Kelly, “I thought everyone was a lot more engaged this year. It was a fun use of everyone’s valuable time.”
44th Street‘s Director of First Impressions, Douglas Fry, agreed, saying the picnic “gives us a fun reason to get together, pull together, and act as a team. From start to finish, treating a patient is such a team effort and anything that helps us grow as a team is only going to make that process better.”
And while everyone wins at our Picnic in the Park, our 56th Street team swept all of our events, earning the right to hoist our brand new SPEAR Cup!
56th Street wins SPEAR’s 2013 Picnic in the Park!
Edwin, Cathy, and Rob crabwalk!
84th Street flies into action!
Team “Deductibles” (SPEAR’s Billing team) huddle.
44th Street does the “T-Rex” down the catwalk.
16th Street gets their “YMCA” on!
56th Street prancercises!
Another successful Picnic in the Park!
For full albums of the picnic, check out our Facebook and Flickr pages!