• Covington Parks and Recreation Director Joe Mack cuts the ribbon last Friday to celebrate the opening of the Covington Bicycle Park and Playground. Photo by Jeff Ireland

It was 95 degrees last Friday afternoon in Covington and most of the adults attending the grand opening of the Covington Bicycle Park and Playground were seriously perspiring.

Many of them found their way to the shaved ice booth and others drank water rapidly.

The dozens of kids in attendance, however, seemed oblivious to the heat as they rode around the paved trail and navigated the pump track.

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Several of the smaller kids had a little trouble staying upright on the pump track at first bu figured it out after a couple of tries.

“It’s really fun,” said Eli Henlsey, a 10-year-old from Brighton. “When if first saw this (pump track) I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but now that I’ve done it it’s really fun. I’ve been trying to train on my own for this.”

He lost is balance a couple of times, but after a few minutes he made it all the way around the track and was popping wheelies.

“I think it’s pretty good,” said Jackson Mack, a 12-year-old from Covington. “Sometimes its pretty scary going down some of the obstacles, but it’s good.”

About 100 people attended the event in the park, which is located adjacent to Cobb-Parr Memorial Park. A half-mile concrete track goes through the heart of the bike park, winds to the nearby baseball fields, into a parking lot and back into the bike park. There’s a smaller area designed that has culverts, small ramps and a pump track. It’s located on 83 acres.

The project, which began last September, was made possible by a $232,000 grant through the Tennessee Department of Health’s Project Diabetes Initiative.

Free rental bikes are available to those who need them.

Joe Mack, the Covington Parks and Recreation director, was pleased with the event.

“I think it’s a good turnout,” he said. “The kids will be able to enjoy this for years go come. It’s great to get them outside exercising, especially now because they’ve been cooped up in the house since the COVID-19 epidemic has been going on. This gives them an opportunity to get outside and do something different.”

“We’re excited about it,” said Covington Mayor Justin Hanson, who attended the event. “We wanted to do something different, outside of the box. There’s nothing like it in Tipton County. It’s very unique for a city Covington’s size to have a park with so much acreage.”