New YPR director ready to ‘unleash the power’

People ready to be active again, Chris Lucas tells Yukon Rotary Club

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New Yukon Parks & Recreation Director Chris Lucas (left) stands beside the Rev. Tim Baer, a Yukon Rotary Club member who invited him to speak at the club’s Feb. 1st meeting hosted by Grace Episcopal Church at 720 S Yukon Parkway. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Chris Lucas is ready to “unleash the power of parks and recreation” on Yukon – whether through special events, programs, parks, facilities, open spaces, or trails.

Lucas, the new Yukon Parks & Recreation director, told a Yukon civic group that people are ready to be active again.

And his department will provide plenty of opportunities for that in 2022.

It’s been a whirlwind first 1-1/2 months for Lucas, who spoke at the Yukon Rotary Club’s Feb. 1st meeting inside Grace Episcopal Church.

Chris Lucas

“It has been amazing,” Lucas said. “I’m excited to bring the ‘new age’ of parks and recreation to the City of Yukon.”

With many special events and programs canceled or scaled back in 2020-21 due to COVID-19, Yukon Parks & Recreation saw interest dip.

“We’re seeing that people are really excited to get back,” Lucas told Yukon Rotarians. “It’s a beautiful time to come in and be a part of that re-growth, re-birth and revitalization.”

Lucas has hit the ground running since starting his new role with the City of Yukon in mid-December. He was asked what he’s most excited about after being named YPR chief.

“I see a great stable ‘building block’ of parks and recreation,” Lucas replied. “I see people really excited to be a part of our special events. When I drove around to check out all the parks, it was a beautiful day in early November. There were people at every single park – even the small ‘pocket’ parks – utilizing them.

“I know there is a want, a need and a joy for parks and recreation.”

Before coming to Yukon, Lucas spent 5-1/2 years with the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department where he was unit operations supervisor.

“I oversaw all of our citywide programming, events and facilities,” Lucas said. “They have two large aquatic centers, six pools, 17 spray grounds, a performing arts center, athletic fields, and a couple sports complexes.”

Having worked since age 14, Lucas brought 25 years of professional parks and recreation experience to his new job in Yukon. He succeeded Jan Scott, who served nearly 22-1/2 years as YPR director.

“I have always wanted to be a parks and recreation director,” Lucas told Yukon Rotary members. “Yukon has always been on my list.”

He’s transitioned from working for a city of about 680,000 people to one with fewer than 30,000 residents.

Lucas began full-time in parks and recreation 15 years ago, and has held management and supervisory positions in Oklahoma City, Liberty, Mo., Highlands Ranch, Colo., and Lakewood, Colo.

A Colorado native, Lucas earned a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and master’s degree from Michigan State University.

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SPECIAL EVENTS, PROGRAMS, FACILITIES

During his Yukon Rotary Club speech, Lucas talked about many special events his department offers – several of which return in 2022 after being canceled or reduced during the pandemic. Of note:

  • Yukon’s 10th Annual Chocolate Festival on Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Dale Robertson Center, 1200 Lakeshore.
  • The 17th Annual Daddy Daughter Dance, which attracted more than 700 participants on Saturday, Jan. 29 at the Dale Robertson Center.
  • Upcoming events like the Trout Fish Out (moved to Welch Park Pond), Yukon Senior Games, Taste of Yukon, and Festival of the Child.

Lucas began as YPR director in the middle of Yukon’s Christmas season, which saw near-record attendance for the Christmas in the Park lights festival. The Sounds of the Season concert was Lucas’ fourth day on the job.

Lucas wants to “continue to build upon and evolve” Yukon’s “base” of special events.

“The past administration has done an amazing job to really set up special events as something that’s very unique to Yukon,” Lucas said.

Meanwhile, he wants to maintain programs so YPR patrons enjoy a “consistent and high-quality experience every single day.”

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