Going Green this St. Patrick’s Day: Embrace Sustainability in Waco

by: Debbie Wright

As we gear up to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday synonymous with the color green, let’s take a moment to reflect on how we can make our celebrations more eco-friendly and contribute positively to our community. This year, why not go beyond wearing green attire and consider participating in events that promote environmental consciousness and sustainability?

Community Composter Certification Course

March 14, 2024, marks the commencement of the Community Composter Certification Course, a remarkable initiative led by Emily Hills, the director of Urban REAP. This comprehensive program aims to educate residents of McLennan County about composting, fostering a network of compost educators and advocates within the community. Participants will delve into topics such as soil and decomposition, composting science, and community outreach, culminating in the creation of independent projects aimed at spreading awareness about composting. By participating in this course, individuals can not only enhance their understanding of sustainable practices but also actively contribute to reducing organic waste in our community.

World Water Day – March 22


Just a few days after St. Patrick’s Day, on March 22, we celebrate World Water Day. This year, let’s engage as a community to address water-related issues and promote conservation efforts. Take part in the Brazos River Cleanup and help keep our waterways pristine from 10am – 1pm. After the cleanup, head over to Indian Springs Park for a range of educational and interactive activities. Our partners, including Keep Waco Beautiful, City of Waco Watershed Protection, and more, will offer fun for all ages. Enjoy yard games, kids’ activities, free giveaways, and delicious food and drinks!

Backyard Composting Workshop – March 16

Looking for practical ways to reduce waste and enrich your garden soil? Attend the Backyard Composting Workshop on March 16th and learn how to start your own composting system. Gain valuable insights into the composting process and see firsthand how you can turn kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich compost for your garden.

Spring Plant Share & Garden Day – March 16

Get into the spirit of spring by joining your neighbors at the Spring Plant Share & Garden Day. Share and adopt new plants, gather seeds, and participate in activities to prepare the Butterfly Sanctuary Garden for the season ahead. Learn from Master Gardeners, contribute to volunteer activities, and support the local ecosystem by donating plants for butterflies, pollinators, and birds.

Household Hazardous Waste Day – March 23

After the celebrations wind down, take the opportunity to declutter responsibly by participating in the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day on March 23. Safely dispose of potentially hazardous items, ensuring they don’t harm the environment or endanger our community.

Companion Planting Workshop – March 30

Wrap up the month of March by attending the Companion Planting Workshop on March 30th. Discover the benefits of planting companions that help each other thrive in your garden space. Learn valuable tips from garden guru April Strickland and maximize the productivity of your garden while promoting biodiversity.

This St. Patrick’s Day, let’s go green in more ways than one. By engaging in these events and adopting sustainable practices, we can make a meaningful difference for our community and the planet. Join the movement towards a greener, more environmentally conscious future. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chalk art obstacle courses come to life in Waco parks

Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, Creative Waco, and City of Waco Parks and Recreation collaborated to create the Sidewalk Chart Art Obstacle Course Challenge. The Challenge was a community-wide project that tasked families to get outside and get creative by drawing their best sidewalk chalk obstacle course.

The Health District received multiple submissions from the community, all containing different, creative ways to get through the obstacle course such as: hopping like a bunny rabbit, spinning, doing your best touchdown dance, and jumping through lily pads like a frog.

 “The goal for the challenge was to provide families with a fun way to get outside and get active, while also providing a COVID-safe activity for all to enjoy,” said Emily Green, public health education specialist for the Public Health District. 

Families were asked to submit photos March 23-April 18, and winners were chosen May 3. A panel of judges representing local organizations scored the entries on creativity, obstacles within the course, and the ability for all community members to enjoy.

The winners are the Vaughn and Peebles families, the Sharma family, and the Striezel family.

The obstacle courses are now painted on sidewalks near the playground stations at Bledsoe-Miller Park (300 N. M.L.K. Jr. Blvd.), South Waco Park (2815 Speight Ave.), and Dewey Park (925 N. 9th St.). Tashita Bibles, a talented local artist, stayed true to the spirit of the kids’ original artwork, while bringing some magic of her own.

“How cool that some of the children who participated get to see their artwork come to life in City of Waco parks. It’s a reminder that everyone’s ideas can make a positive difference in our community” said Fiona Bond, executive director of Creative Waco.

Funding made possible through the Texas Healthy Communities, Texas Department of State Health Services grant.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco is walking this fall; time to sign up

By Susan Menninger Krause

Did you know that walking is one of the easiest, least expensive, most accessible ways to improve your health?

Walking will help you maintain a healthy weight, lose body fat, improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones and muscles, improve balance and coordination, and increase energy. It also can help prevent or manage conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. And walking can also improve your mood, cognition, memory, and sleep.

It’s not complicated. There’s no pressure. No elaborate or pricey equipment or memberships are necessary. You control your schedule, your distance, where you go, and who you go with. Just put one foot in front of the other and join “Let’s Walk Waco” this fall. 

If you’re looking to start or continue your walking journey, join the “Let’s Walk Waco” community-wide challenge. This walking challenge is sponsored by the Live Well Waco Coalition and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. This free eight-week program begins Sept. 20 and runs through Nov. 15. Registration begins Aug. 30.

You can create a team of your friends, neighbors, family, or co-workers or join a team and get the chance to meet and make new connections. Anyone can join, and McLennan County residents who log their miles may win prizes along the way.    

For information on how to register, create, or join a team, visit our website. There you will also find information about community center parks and indoor walking opportunities, City parks and trails, frequently asked questions, and other helpful tips and resources. Come join the fun and “Let’s Walk Waco.”

Susan Menninger Krause is manager of parks and rec facilities and programs for the City of Waco Parks and Recreation. Susan formerly was branch executive director at Waco Family YMCA. Before coming to Waco, she worked 16 years at Greater Joliet Area YMCA near Chicago. Susan holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Dallas and a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of North Texas. She and her husband, Ken, have two sons, Zachary and Tyler, both are in college.

Act Locally Waco also has an informal group of walkers called Waco Walks. There is more information on our Waco Walks web page.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Library and Parks & Rec re-opening

By Brayley Payne

After a long season of quarantine through the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Waco is finally re-opening its doors. This includes restaurants, coffee shops, and other Waco favorites — the Waco-McLennan County Library and various Parks and Recreation services in the Waco area.

The library, at all four locations, is set to open Monday, June 15. The hours will be limited, Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.. Visitors will be able to browse like usual and check out items. While there will be browsing, there will be no public seating in the library at this point.

“We are taking this phased approach because the situation is fluid and plans need to be flexible so we can make changes as information becomes available,” said Library Director Essy Day.

Social distancing will be encouraged throughout the libraries. The computers will also be six feet apart, and time will be limited to one hour per day for each user. After a user leaves, the staff will clean the computer area. The library recommends using the outdoor drop when returning items in order to effectively quarantine the previously checked-out items. Visitors are encouraged to wear face masks.

Waco Parks and Recreation has created modified programs for the summer, but they will still be fun! The RECess! summer program has already begun, and it aims to provide a fun alternative to the camps that have been canceled due to COVID-19. This program will be virtual for daily, at-home activities. Check the department’s Facebook page each day for updates.

The department’s outdoor pavilions, indoor facilities, and park areas are now available for rental! On June 15, Bledsoe-Miller, Dewey, and South Waco community centers will reopen. The new hours will be: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m..

June 15 is also the start date for organized sports and competitions on city property and in city facilities. Riverbend Park will reopen for games and use on June 15, as well. Waco Mammoth National Monument has opened its trail and picnic area for use. The dig shelter tours, however, are still on hold to reopen, and park buildings will remain closed for the time being.

Brayley Payne is an Act Locally Waco intern from Denver. She’s studying professional writing and religion at Baylor University and entering her senior year. She has worked in the Baylor University Writing Center the last two years.

2018 Greatest Hits #10: Want to have a great time in Waco? There’s an app for that!

(During these last few weeks of December we will be reprising the Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts for 2018 from the Act Locally Waco blog. I couldn’t possibly pick my favorites – so I used the simple (cop out?)  approach of pulling up the 10 blog posts that got the most “opens” according to our Google Analytics.  It is an intriguing collection that gives at least a little insight into the interests and concerns of Act Locally Waco readers. I hope this “Top 10” idea inspires you to go back and re-read your personal favorites.  There have been so many terrific ones… If you would like to see the Top 10 according to Google Analytics, here’s the link: Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts of 2018.  Merry Christmas! — ABT) 

By Karen Rios

I became a Wacoan in January. Before that I literally only knew the Fazoli’s off of 35. I excitedly used my phone to explore my new home. However, I quickly got frustrated at all the articles and blogs that popped up on my search. Most revolved around Magnolia Market, and I knew that Waco had more than just the Market.

I really want people to know about an app that helped me learn about my new town. It’s called Waco & The Heart of Texas, and it’s free for Apple and Android. The Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau put together it together mostly for tourists, but I decided to give it a try anyway.


I love food! So, the first area I explored was the “savor” category. The app lists 141 food options. Through this, I discovered World Cup Cafe & Fair Trade Market, a locally owned business where you can eat with a purpose. I love their club sandwich. It’s a double decker with ham, turkey, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and your choice of condiments. Did I mention it comes with fries?

Next, the app’s food list led me to Butter My Biscuit. If you see day old biscuits still available, just go ahead and buy them. They sell out fast! The two main biscuits to choose from are Buttermilk and Texas, which has jalapeño and cheddar cheese. They also offer the biscuit “of the day”, which was Rosemary when I went. Every day is something different. You can’t go wrong with these biscuits!

Finally, I enjoyed Moroso’s options for Neapolitan wood-fired pizza and other Italian dishes. A good margarita pizza is hard to come by, but Moroso’s hits the mark. The crust is crunchy and light. They put the right amount of sauce and cheese, and the basil tastes like they just picked it from the garden. It’s a good size pizza, most people share, but I think it’s a perfect personal size. I normally go during lunch to take advantage of their margarita pizza special. My mouth is watering just thinking about all this food.

Waco offers a variety of food options with Wacoan pride. As a local you may already know of the restaurants listed, but it’s always good to have something to reference in case you forget or need to share with friends or family from out of town. The app provides all the information you need. The hard part– deciding where to eat.

Other categories to explore

Perhaps you want something other than food. The app offers 15 different categories to help you show off Waco.

In the “See” category I discovered Cameron Park Zoo. My niece and I watched the lioness chase her cub around trying to bathe her. It looked like the scene from “Lion King” when Simba was trying to get out of his “bath time.”

One of their unique exhibits includes The Brazos River Country.  The exhibit shows you the journey of the early Spanish explorers who searched for gold along the Brazos. Throughout the exhibit you see different species that they could have encountered along the River. My niece enjoyed it because the river runs through Waco and we even walked around to see if she spotted anything.

Another of my go to categories is “Events.” You can see what events happen around Waco. For instance, on May 4th I saw First Friday Waco. That is an event on the first Friday of every month, where business in downtown offer discounts, live music and extended hours. I even learned the Dr. Pepper Museum has free admission on First Friday.

There are at least 300 listings, you just pick a category and go through the options. The app provides a brief description of the place, their website, other media outlet platforms, a contact number, and the address. If you come across an event you like you can add that event to your Google Calendar or iCal. The app is easy to navigate.  They did all the work for us, so all we Wacoans have to do is plan out the day.


I love being able to save money anytime I can, but I absolutely hate having to give my email address in exchange for coupons! I liked that Waco & The Heart of Texas didn’t make me input my email address to get their Specials. On their app they provide at least 54 different coupons that Wacoans can use. (Side note:  If you prefer paper coupons, you can find them at the Visitors Center at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum, or at the Convention Center.

When my niece and I went to Cameron Park Zoo we used the coupon at least twice. The coupon gives you a free child admission with a purchase of an adult admission. I saved $7 dollars. You can keep using the coupons until December 31, 2018. Sure, it’s meant for tourists, but Wacoans can save money too.

Why should tourists have all the fun?

Wacoans can all benefit from this media platform. It provides a lot of options that you may know but not necessarily remember. You can plan a family outing and even save money. You can go on new bike trails. You can discover Waco history. You can provide more options to your friends and family. You can explore Waco in a different way. You can take advantage of the bus routes. You can try going to a winery. With over 300 listings, you are bound to find at least one new activity. Waco & The Heart of Texas might have been created for tourists, but Wacoans will know how to use it better!  (Free for Apple OR Android )

Karen Rios is a new Wacoan. She is currently attending MCC studying Digital Media. Although she is new to Waco, she is not new to the “small town” living. She loves exploring new towns and cities. She’s a sucker for hole-in-the-wall eateries. “Every day I discover something new about Waco, I realize how much beauty is here,” she says. “I like to brag about the scenery to all my city friends and family. I’m loving every minute of being a Wacoan.”