Rock Around the Hawk Recognized as One of State’s Most Innovative Recreation Programs by mParks

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Rock Around the Hawk Recognized as One of State’s Most Innovative Recreation Programs by mParks
The City of Farmington Hills is excited to announce that Rock Around the Hawk, an immersive recreation program for toddler and preschool-aged children and their caregivers, was selected as a 2023-2024 Innovative Recreation Programming Award winner by the Michigan Recreation & Parks Association (mParks). The City also received the Outstanding Marketing Award – Seasonal Brochure for its Fall 2023 Activities Guide. Representatives from the City’s Special Services Department accepted the awards on March 1 at the mParks Conference & Trade Show in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Each year, mParks honors exemplary park and recreation professionals and citizen advocates through the Association’s annual awards. Award winners inspire mParks membership and embody the profession's core values, demonstrating the highest level of performance in their job duties and a tremendous commitment to mParks and its membership.

“Year after year, the City of Farmington Hills receives awards for its inventive programming, top-notch work and exceptional facilities,” said Director of Special Services, Ellen Schnackel. “These awards exemplify the City’s commitment to diverse, year-round programming that contributes to the quality-of-life Farmington Hills community members expect. I couldn’t be prouder to lead this extraordinary team!”

Honored as one of the four most innovative programs in the state, Rock Around the Hawk is a free, monthly drop-in program for little ones from 18-month to five-years-old and their caregivers, that exposes tiny concertgoers to music, art and other activities while celebrating famous music festivals from all over the world. One Friday morning per month, The Hawk Black Box Theatre transforms into a magical, musical experience that lightheartedly pays homage to unique, immersive music festivals with age-appropriate activities, crafts, and, of course, music and dancing. Rock Around the Hawk is a program through the Cultural Arts Division of the City’s Special Services Department, made possible in part by a grant from the Farmington/Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth and Families.

“The City of Farmington Hills considers the arts to be an essential service, and in alignment with that mission, the Cultural Arts Division coordinates innovative programming for community members of all ages and abilities,” said cultural arts supervisor Rachel Timlin. “Rock Around the Hawk introduces some of the City’s littlest community members and their caregivers to the benefits of art, music, dance and culture, highlighting the importance of the arts in early childhood development.”

Rock Around the Hawk takes place one Friday per month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at The Hawk Black Box Theatre, with a summer break in July and August. Spring programming includes:
• “Purple Rain Drops” on April 5, a celebration of the life and legacy of Prince,
• “Move-and-Shakement” on May 10, a techo toddler fantasy, as a nod to Detroit’s iconic electronic music scene, and
• “BabyBjorn This Way” on June 7, a merry way to celebrate LGBTQ musical idols.

“When I was a mom of young kids, I was seeking activities that would not only be fun for my kids, but enjoyable for me, too,” said cultural arts programmer Lindsay Janoch, who conceptualized Rock Around the Hawk in 2022, and leads creation of the event's theme and coordinating activities. “We frequently hear from parents and caregivers who say they had just as much fun as their little one, if not more. It’s become a program that staff and community members look forward to each month.”

Other past themes have included “Lollipopalooza,” featuring nineties music, a dance floor and manicures in the “Nine Inch Nail Salon,” and “"Quiet?! Fest," a family-friendly version of Chicago's renowned Riot Fest, featuring punk-accessorized pumpkins, an electric guitar “petting zoo,” a temporary tattoo parlor and a “Smashing Pumpkins” Play-Doh station.

The City of Farmington Hills has the largest dedicated municipal Cultural Arts Division in the State of Michigan. The Division coordinates arts programming for the community, including classes, events, and activities in visual and performing arts, and year-round performances at The Hawk Theatre, to expose diverse populations to the arts. The City’s Cultural Arts Division also works to empower makers of all ages and abilities in The Hawk Makerspace, an immersive facility that allows makers to access a variety of state-of-the art tools and equipment, as well as a creative community with a wealth of resources and knowledge, to grow a new hobby or skill, from sewing to woodworking.

The City shares its expansive recreational programming and classes in its comprehensive Activities Guide, a triannual publication delivered to over 40-thousand homes in the Farmington Hills area. MParks recognized the Fall 2023 Activities Guide as the most outstanding marketing brochure in Michigan. The City’s Department of Communications and Community Engagement collaborates with the City’s Special Services Department for the publication to ensure that community members have access to information about the wealth of enriching programs available in the City, spanning recreation, fitness, sports, aquatics, nature, visual and performing arts, and more for participants of all ages and abilities. To access the current City of Farmington Hills activities guide, visit

In the past, the City of Farmington Hills has received numerous awards and recognitions from mParks, including Innovative Programming Awards for The Great Farmington Hills Campout, Wild at Sea Art Camp and the Youth Theatre Performing Arts Festival. The City has also received awards from mParks recognizing outstanding facility design for the Riley Skate Park, the Riley Archery Range, the Hills 257 Trailhead and The Hawk Makerspace. Special Services staff members have also received the mParks New Professional of the Year Award and Professional Leadership Award.
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