Free Tennessee Smokies tickets to reward good behavior
By Steve Williams
Mike Donila had a big handful of tickets to Tennessee Smokies baseball games Thursday he was looking to give away.
Yes, there is a catch. After all, it is baseball. But earning the free ticket still can be as easy as walking to first base.
Next time you’re at one of Knox County’s many parks and you’re spotted doing a good deed – like properly depositing a beverage can instead of throwing it on the ground – you may be rewarded with one of Donila’s ducats.
A bicyclist riding through the park wearing a protective helmet could be presented a Smokies ticket too just for displaying good safety.
There’s going to be many county representatives looking to give away these tickets.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, the Knox County Parks & Recreation Department and the Tennessee Smokies baseball organization are teaming up to reward good behavior and recognize park visitors and users who have gone out of their way to help the county.
The new program was announced Thursday, May 10, at Admiral Farragut Park off South Northshore Drive.
Craig Jenkins, CEO of The Jenkins Agency, said Donila, Knox County Parks Community Relations Manager, was “the driving force behind this.”
Jenkins referred to the Smokies tickets as “park perks” – a reward that “recognizes visitors who use parks in a respectful and positive way.”
Jenkins worked with Donila in putting the program together.
Chris Allen, President of the Tennessee Smokies, was all in.
“It didn’t take me long to say ‘yes,’” said Allen. “When it comes to community involvement, we like to be part of it any way we can. We appreciate being invited to be a part of this.”
There are many other ways a person could be rewarded with a Smokies ticket. Assisting an elderly person down bleacher steps is often needed. Protecting an unaware person from a rapidly approaching foul ball could prevent an injury.
Donila said he also plans to equip some of the county’s baseball and softball umpires with Smokies tickets to pass out for great plays on the field or good sportsmanship during or after a game.
“Umpires are much underappreciated,” said Donila, noting this could be a good way for umpires to improve their popularity.
The tickets also will go to folks who participate in the department’s Adopt-A-Park program, which encourages sponsors to spend a few hours a month helping to keep the parks clean.
At last week’s anouncement, Mayor Burchett and Allen presented a baseball goodie bag to the Painter Family. Jeremy Painter, his wife, Caitlin, and their children – Milena and Cameron – adopted the Admiral Farragut Park last fall.
“I have a lot of appreciation for our volunteers because they give so much to the community,” Mayor Burchett said. “The Painter family has done a tremendous job, helping our great staff keep this park in tip top shape.”
Added Allen: “We are excited to partner with Knox County to be able to show support to all of the wonderful people who take time out of their lives to make a difference in our community. The Knoxville citizens who take the time to help the community keep the local parks clean are huge difference makers, and we are excited to be able to support them with this partnership.”
Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker and state Rep. Jason Zachary also were in attendance. Admiral Farragut Park is in their district.