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The Rec’s squirrel mascot named; mural done
Anna Popp with City Auditorium mural 2024
Great Bend native muralist Anna Popp shows off her latest completed work for the Great Bend Recreation Commission at the City Auditorium gymnasium at Monday's meeting of the GBRC board.

Staff at Great Bend Recreation had two important items of information to share with board members at Monday’s monthly meeting: The Rec’s squirrel mascot has a name, and the mural is done.

Great Bend Recreation Commission Board President Randy Goering asked that the two information items be placed at the top of Monday’s meeting agenda, so that board members could share the news with the individuals involved, and board members unanimously agreed.

Meeting “Recs”

Nine-year-old Claire Anderson was declared the winner of the naming competition. Claire was in attendance at the meeting with her mom and grandmother. GBRC Executive Director Chris Umphres noted that Claire’s winning story pointed out that a mascot’s name should connect with the Rec, adding that there were a number of entries suggesting the name “Rex,” but weren’t quite good enough.

The contest was announced in June at the ribbon cutting for the Rec’s Ninja Course equipment at the Great Bend Activity Center. “Recs” who didn’t have a name yet, was introduced as the organization’s “professional grade” mascot. 

For her winning entry, Claire received a large plush squirrel, plus a squirrel feeder and a supply of corn for the other squirrels at her home to enjoy.


Popp’s project presented

Following “Recs’s” appearance, board members recessed to the City Auditorium gym accompanied by Great Bend native muralist Anna Popp, to view her completed work.

The mural, located on the gym’s east wall, is a colorful representation of the many different aspects of activities the Rec provides, Popp told the board.

“Obviously, the sports aspects that the Rec puts on are important, but I included some of the classes that aren’t sports-related,” she said. “There are figures playing sports, painting, cooking, doing yoga on an abstract background.”

She explained her process to the board, starting from an iPad scaled image at 1” by 1”, which she translates to a 1’ by 1’ grid on the wall.

“This mural is the largest that I’ve done so far,” she noted.

Next up for Popp is a work at the Park School gym and an “interactive-type” wall at Eisenhower for the younger kids,” she said. After that, she has been commissioned for a work by Nex-Tech in Great Bend.

Other business

Other board business included approval of appointments and designations; and on budget, announced their intent to exceed the Revenue Neutral Rate and publication of the budget and RNR rate notice.

Also approved was a bid to have the floors professionally stripped, cleaned and polished at a cost of $30,350. Included are 5,700 sq. ft of terrazo and 5,500 sq. ft. of VCT flooring.

Lastly, the board unanimously approved letting bids for a permanent outside bathroom structure at the Activity Center to accommodate off-hours users of My Backyard Playground.

GBRC's "Recs" and Claire Anderson
Nine-year-old Claire Anderson was selected the winner of the Great Bend Rec's mascot naming contest. Also pictured is the Rec's squirrel mascot, now known as "Recs."