Cincinnati Recreation Commission

Cincinnati Recreation Commission

History Of The Cincinnati Recreation Commission

CRC has seen a world at war, a baby boom, a man landing on the moon, a world coming to grips with new technology and a new millennium.

Cincinnati Recreation Commission has remained steady through it all.


  • 1926: After a unanimous vote by City Council on May 26, an ordinance is passed creating a Public Recreation Commission.
  • 1927: CRC begins providing programs for Cincinnati residents. Will R. Reeves becomes the first CRC Director (1927–1931).
  • 1928: Avon Fields Golf Course (built in 1914) becomes a CRC property.
  • 1931: Depression hits the country, and -- despite economic conditions -- CRC’s infrastructure doubles.
  • 1932: Tam Deering becomes CRC director (1932–1945).
  • 1938: The Airport Playfield opens.
  • 1943: Lincoln Recreation Center opens -- the first newly-constructed CRC center.
  • 1945: Herb A. Davis begins a 22-year tenure as CRC Director (1945–1967). CRC perseveres under war conditions, while the majority of CRC's staff of supervisors were called to duty through the Armed Forces or other war agencies and industries.
  • 1967: Bret J. McGinnis becomes CRC director (1967–1980).
  • 1968: In honor of CRC's seniors, the Senior Hall of Fame honors its first class of inductees.
  • 1970: CRC adds to its facilities with 21 pools, 15 recreation centers, 25 playgrounds and two golf courses. The Cincinnati Recreation Commission is judged to be one of the top five recreation programs in the US.
  • 1971: CRC receives the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Administration.
  • 1977: Held at Sawyer Point, Riverfest becomes the largest single-day event in the country.
  • 1980: Ronald W. Chase begins a 17-year tenure as CRC director (1980–1997).
  • 1988: CRC dedicates Bicentennial Commons at Sawyer Point to the citizens of Cincinnati. This beautiful park on the river’s edge celebrates Cincinnati’s rich history.
  • 1991: Cincinnati Recreation Commission establishes a major entertainment venue as it begins management of the Showboat Majestic.
  • 1992: The first CRC Senior Olympics is held.
  • 1995: CRC hosts the National Recreation and Park Association's (NRPA) Congress.
  • 1997: The Cincinnati Recreation Commission wins its second National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation. Additionally, CRC wins NRPA’s Excellence in Aquatics Award.
  • 1998: Wayne Bain becomes CRC Director (1998–2000).
  • 2001: James Garges becomes CRC Director (2001–2007).
  • 2005: CRC becomes the first large urban Ohio recreation department to receive accreditation by the national Commission on Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies.
  • 2007: Dr. Norman C. Merrifield becomes CRC Director (2007–2011). The Cincinnati Recreation Commission celebrates its 80th birthday.
  • 2008: Sawyer Point celebrates its 20th year of rockin' on the river. Also, Cincinnatians have enjoyed 40 years of CRC's Therapeutic Recreation Division.
  • 2011: Christopher Bigham becomes CRC Director.
  • 2014: CRC’s Avon Fields Golf Course celebrates its 100th Anniversary.