About 350 people gathered at Das Rec on Saturday night during the Black Ties and Tennies Gala, meant to celebrate the opening of the city’s new recreation center and raise money for the facility’s fee assistance program.
Preliminary numbers provided by Parks and Recreation Director Stacey Dicke Monday afternoon indicated more than $85,000 was raised for the scholarship fund.
This program provides 20, 50 or 75 percent discounts on membership prices for residents who fall within a certain income bracket and household size.
“Just to have this many people showing that they support it, and that they want everybody in the community to be able to participate and for them to have fun while they’re here, it’s been great,” Dicke said.
The public opening of Das Rec this Saturday will be the culmination of five years of work from the city and other community partners since citizens voted in favor of the community center as part of the 2013 bond.
Saturday’s gala marked the first major event in the facility. Both ticket sales and funds raised from auction items all went to the scholarship program.
During the gala, Mayor Barron Casteel said the facility will be a valuable community resource and that the name, Das Rec, reflects the German history of New Braunfels.
“There is nothing about it that isn’t New Braunfels, and without the citizens of New Braunfels who supported it in 2013, it would have never happened,” Casteel said. “This facility is yours.”
He encouraged citizens, in light of the ongoing the selection process for items on the May 2019 bond, to remember what the city can do when its members work together. He pointed to proposed funding to build a sports complex as another example of more recreation options for the city.
Jennifer Hernandez, who attended Saturday’s event, said she remembered a time she and her brother would walk to the Landa Park Rec Center to play. As the outreach coordinator for the Westside Community Center, Hernandez said she was thankful the fee assistance program would open the facility to more people.
“I’m super excited about families that want to participate,” Hernandez said. “This is needed, and it will be used. It will be used well. It’s time.”
Among various items auctioned off during the night was the coveted first ride down Das Rec’s water slide. Robert Holt purchased the ride for $600. He said his 10-year-old son, Henry, will take the ride.
“It’s an amazing center here that the city’s built, and I just wanted to support the community,” Holt said.
With the gala complete, Das Rec Recreation Center Manager Kelsey Heiden said Das Rec’s doors are closed so staff can prepare the facility for the July 21 opening.
“We’re so ready,” Heiden said. “Staff has been working so hard to get this place clean (and) to plan all of the events. They’re eager. We’re just doing last-minute touches.”
The schedule of opening weekend events is at www.dasrec.com, where visitors can also find applications for the fee assistance program.
Heiden said it is not too late to get a founding membership rate of 10 percent off the regular price. Individuals and families can go to the parks and recreation office at 110 Golf Course Road to sign up for membership.
After Saturday, when the facility opens, people can still get a membership. A grand opening rate of 5 percent off membership prices will be available for three months after Das Rec opens.