Chapel Hill: Opinion

Susan Brown and Jim Orr: Top 10 ways to win summer in Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, you love summertime, and it shows!

During summer, the Chapel Hill Public Library sees about 3,600 items fly off its shelves and 1,800 people through its door each day. That adds up to a 14 percent increase in both door count and circulation between June and August.

About 2,000 youth attend summer camps and athletic clinics at the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department. We hire about 100 additional staff to serve the increased demand at camps, clinics and swimming pools. Taking pride in keeping our parks and greenways beautiful is a 25-staff member park maintenance team that mows, prunes and otherwise maintains 797 acres (another 141 acres are maintained by outside contractors).

Town of Chapel Hill services provide fun, fit and cool things to do in summer – and most are absolutely free! In honor of David Letterman’s recent retirement, Town staff members have identified the “Top 10 Ways to Win Summer” – so, let the countdown begin:

10. Summer Reading for All Ages – The library’s reading program offers prizes for registered readers who are taking in everything from print books and ebooks to audiobooks and magazines.

9. Enjoy Live Music & Arts on the Plaza at 140 West Franklin Street – Free concerts in downtown feature bluegrass, classical and dance music from 6 to 9 p.m. every Friday through June 19.

8. Spend Your Money on Beach Towels (not Bestsellers) – When you’re headed to the beach, take along books, e-books, audiobooks, movies, music and magazines – all available from the library. Did you know you can borrow up to 50 items at a time?

7. Catch an outdoor Movie Under the Stars – Come at sundown around 8:30 p.m. for Thursday movies through Aug. 27 atop the Wallace Parking Deck at 150 E. Rosemary St.

6. Catch a Movie, Concert or Performance at the Library – Live performances are offered all summer long, as well as kids’ movie matinees at 2 p.m. Fridays and movies for an older crowds at 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

5. Hike or Bike a Greenway – Chapel Hill features more than 25 miles of interconnected trails and greenways. Fan Branch and Morgan Creek have been recently renovated and connected. Learn more at

4. Keep Learning – The library offers ways that you can learn at your own pace with and

3. Get Fit with Baseball, Skateboarding and Swimming Get stoked at our free skate park – totally sick with 10,000 square feet of ramps. Come out for a swim at one of three pools – two indoor pools located at the Chapel Hill Community Center and Homestead Park and one outdoor pool at Hargraves Community Center.

2. Chill Out at a Cool Place – The library is the coolest place in town with free AC, free wi-fi, space to meet up or hang out, trails to walk, public art to enjoy – and much more.

1. Prepare to get WOWed by Fireworks! – The gates at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Memorial Stadium open at 7 p.m., and free fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.

Did our list cover your favorites? Look for #winsummer – and share your own special summer-at-home activities with your friends and neighbors in the #ChapelHill community. We will communicate your tips – from nature walks to summer reading to movies under the stars – all summer long on Facebook or Twitter @ChapelHillgov -- @chpublib -- @chapelhillevent

“Top Ten Ways to Win Summer” was a recent Come Learn With Us program offered by the Town of Chapel Hill. Access the program video and more at


Susan Brown is the director of the Chapel Hill Public Library, and Jim Orr is the director of the Parks and Recreation Department.