BY FREDA MIKLIN
After 33 years as the city’s recreation manager, a title that belies the enormous difference she made in the lives of its residents, Cathy Delap (formerly Cathy Pate) retired from the City of Greenwood Village on September 9.
When Delap started with GV on April 5, 1989 as recreation coordinator, she told The Villager, “the only programs they had were maybe two nights of basketball in the gym at West Middle School in the winter, Arbor Day, and, I was told there was a celebration on the 4th of July at Carson Park, but I never could find any evidence of it.” She was hired “to create youth programming,” having come from a YMCA where she oversaw and taught youth sports including aquatics, tennis, and basketball for six years.
We asked Delap what she felt was her most important accomplishment over a 33-year career with the city. Without the slightest hesitation, she said, “When I started, I was told GV didn’t have a sense of community…My goal was to build that sense of community for GV families like the one that I grew up with in Northbrook, Illinois.” After the first Greenwood Village Day, which Delap had in 1989 three months after she arrived, she added half a dozen more seasonal events. “I started with the Fishing Derby, then we added Fall Fest with hayrides and pumpkins at Cherry Creek State Park. In 1994, at the urging of Mayor David Hull, we brought in the Holiday Lighting. Next came egg hunts in the spring and Art in the Park camps in the summer. Along the way, the Youth Triathlon got thrown into the mix.”
It was the generosity of GV city councils and mayors over the years that allowed Delap to create and expand the most well-known and loved of all city parties, Greenwood Village Day, although it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and again in 2021 due to uncertainty. It is not known at this writing whether the current city council, several members of which have questioned its value, will bring back Greenwood Village Day in 2022.
During the pandemic, Delap created a half-dozen brand new family friendly socially-distanced fun events like the Spring Illumination, a Storybook Walk Through a Pretend Village, and the Golden Egg Hunt. She even hid a leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day in the Sundance Hills tot lot and a cupid for Valentine’s Day at Silo Park and put out clues for kids to try to find them. Delap has a special place in her heart for GV’s seniors, who she will continue to lead in activities every Monday even though she has retired.
Delap recalls all the six or seven mayors she served under as saying, “Let’s provide a sense of community with memorable experiences for all the residents. Have fun. Make memories.”
Why did she decide it was time to move on? She told us, “There’s only so many days in your life. My health is extremely important to me. I want to enjoy my grandkids. I want to travel.” Delap is also a newlywed, having married her husband Chip just five years ago. They are both avid golfers and spend much of their time, when they aren’t playing with grandchildren, playing golf locally and around the country.
What advice would she give her replacement? “Build relationships, internally and externally. Get to know the school district folks, local gym teachers, everyone on the maintenance crew and don’t forget the irrigation people. You need to know who to call if the sprinklers come on in the middle of an event!”