Essex County, NJ - Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs was presented with two awards of excellence at the annual New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association convention held in Atlantic City on Tuesday, February 26.

Earning awards were Essex County Grover Cleveland Park Playground in Caldwell/Essex Fells and Essex County Turtle Back Zoo African Adventure exhibit area in West Orange.

"I am so proud of our Parks Department for the statewide recognition they received from the NJRPA. Our parks and Turtle Back Zoo are community gathering places that our residents use for recreation, athletic activities, relaxation and more, and contribute greatly to our quality of life," DiVincenzo said.

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Essex County Grover Cleveland Park received an Excellence in Design Award. Opened in May 2018, the playground has two play areas near the Children's House: one for children ages 2-5 and one for children ages 5-12. There are climbing apparatus, slides, spinners and swings for both age groups, including handicap-accessible swings. A new feature is a miniature zip line. The facility has a rubberized safety surface in areas where play equipment is located. There are also grassy areas where children can run and play. In the center of the playground is a seating area from where parents can watch their children.

Essex County Turtle Back Zoo African Adventure exhibit area was recognized with an Excellence in Design Award. The area opened with a Giraffe Exhibit in May 2016 and was expanded in 2017 to include the Ronald Mount Lion and Hyena Exhibit and in 2018 to include the Shores of Africa Penguin Exhibit. Each exhibit is part of Turtle Back's ongoing commitment to education and conservation.