The Grand Prairie Parks, Arts & Recreation Department was named best in nation when it was awarded the National Recreation and Park Association’s coveted Gold Medal Sept. 26, 2017, at its annual conference in New Orleans.

The Gold Medal is a program of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).  Grand Prairie won in the Class II division for cities of population between 150,001 and 400,000.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.  Judges cited Grand Prairie’s 5,010 acres of parkland in 58 parks, trail systems, community partnerships, hundreds of special events, unique programming for all ages, means and backgrounds, 1/4 cent sales tax for park improvements, the Summit Active Adult Center, and the soon-to-open Epic mega recreation Center, Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark and PlayGrand Adventures all-accessible playground for people of all abilities.

“We are so honored to receive this tremendous recognition,” said Mayor Ron Jensen.  “On top of the Gold Medal win in 2008, this clearly shows Grand Prairie is committed to quality of life and enhancing the value and experience for our residents through parks, arts and recreation.”

“I can’t say enough good things about our dedicated and innovative staff, energized Park Board and active residents and community partners,” said Rick Herold, Parks, Arts and Recreation Director.  “I am blessed to work with an employee and residential family of people passionate about parks, community, unity and serving others.”

Grand Prairie’s competition was steep, facing Arlington, Texas Parks and Recreation; Metro Parks Tacoma, Washington; and Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District in Beaverton, Oregon.

Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff and elected officials.

A panel of five park and recreation professionals reviews and judges all application materials. Judges are chosen for their considerable experience and knowledge in parks and recreation on both the local and national levels.

For more information on the Gold Medal Awards, visit or

2007, 2008, 2016, & 2017

Gold Medal Winners:
2008 & 2017


Celebrating over 50 years of existence, the Grand Prairie Parks and Recreation Department is dedicated to “creating a GRAND lifestyle”. The Grand Prairie Parks and Recreation department features world class parks and facilities, a wide-array of exciting program opportunities, and numerous special events throughout the year.

The City of Grand Prairie has over 5,000 park acres, including the exciting 3,000 acres surrounding Joe Pool Lake. The staff is proud to be the caretakers for the citizens of Grand Prairie and welcomes comments about the Parks system or recreation offerings of the city.

Dedicated to providing “world class service” the department was nominated by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) as a finalist to the National Gold Medal Award, one of only 4 in America, in 2007 and 2008, 2016 and 2017, and won the the Gold Medal in 2008 and 2017!

Awards are no stranger to the department, for it has racked up honors for Park Development, Maintenance Innovations and Recreation programming over the past few years.

The parks and recreation re-birth in Grand Prairie began in 1999 with the passage of the ¼ cent sales tax for parks and recreation by the Citizens of Grand Prairie. With dynamic city leaders, trusting citizens, awesome partners and a dynamic staff, the Grand Prairie Parks and Recreation system is destined to be one of the finest in America.

Enjoy your parks. Play golf at your two golf courses. Enjoy some exciting recreation programs. Visit the exciting Ruthe Jackson Conference Center. Boat, swim or camp at Joe Pool Lake. Play a round at two award-winning golf courses. Work out at the Tony Shotwell Life Center, or the newly renovated Dalworth Recreation Center. Go for a jog on our trails. Take your dog to play at Central Bark. Re-invent at The Summit, America’s first baby-boomer facility. The department even offers the Grand Prairie Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum for that special time of need.

The latest additions to your parks and recreation department are Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark, The Epic, and PlayGrand Adventures all-inclusive playground!

Come visit YOUR parks and recreation department…together we are building a GRAND lifestyle!