By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Sep 17, 2020 at 10:32 AM

This week, painted hearts popped up in two Downtown parks, Pere Marquette and Cathedral Square, to introduce the new "Love Your Parks" campaign that encourages park lovers to express their support on social media and possibly volunteer.

The initiative celebrates two events: the Downtown Employee Appreciation Week organized by Milwaukee Downtown BID #21, and the Love Your Parks campaign, organized by Milwaukee County Parks.

Because of the pandemic, the celebration looks different this year.

"Each year, Downtown Employee Appreciation Week draws in thousands to our downtown parks for free lunches and office challenge games," says Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. "While this year's event reflects health and safety guidelines, we've found new ways to express our gratitude to downtown's 93,000 employees and 30+ acres of parks and green spaces, especially with our new social distancing hearts at Cathedral Square Park and Pere Marquette Park." 

The Love Your Parks campaign wants to hear from Milwaukeeans on why they love their parks through the hashtag #loveyourparksmke. They are also asking people to micro-volunteer by becoming a "Brew Hero" and to consider becoming a founding member of the newly formed non-profit Milwaukee Parks Foundation,

The Love Your Parks campaign website at explains how park dwellers can share their stories about their favorite parks, volunteer and/or donate to the Milwaukee Parks Foundation. The site also features a downloadable Parks Explorer app that provides lots of information about all of the county parks.

Due to the pandemic, the parks underwent spending freezes after already enduring years of budget cuts that impacted staffing levels, service levels and basic operations. Thus, there's a lengthy backlog of deferred maintenance needs.

“We know that Milwaukee residents really need their parks and trails – particularly during this time of pandemic – and usage has skyrocketed over the spring and summer," says Guy Smith, Executive Director of the Milwaukee County Parks. "Right now though, our parks are in desperate need of some love too."

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.