Human Interest

With their familiar tan cowboy hats and grey shirts, the Sedona Volunteer Park Rangers have been a mainstay in the Uptown area for the past 10 years, helping thousands of visitors along the way.

“The Rangers are important to this department, this city and its visitors,” said Parks and Recreation Manager Rachel Murdoch, whose department the program falls under. “They provide year-round hospitality in all sorts of weather without complaint. They are valuable to other event promoters in town and are always genuinely happy to help out at a community event. We appreciate their time and dedication to their cause.”

Last year, the Rangers provided 1,601 hours of community service. Since the program began in 2007, they have put in nearly 27,461 volunteer hours, while costing the city less than $27,000 for their services, their annual report states

“This last year was highly productive and I think one of our best years,” said Bob Huggins, who founded the program. “In addition to providing daily, year-around visitor services to our guests in Uptown, we were able to provide assistance at 15 community events, broaden our educational programs and were honored to serve as the grand marshals for the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

The program has 12 full-time rangers and one new person who is going through the background check and basic training process. Ideally, Huggins said he’d like to have 15, which would allow them more flexibility and enable them to provide additional shifts in Uptown.

At the end of 2016, those volunteering as Rangers included Judy Huggins, Marie Brown, Marilyn Thaden Dexter, Jerry Showalter, Ned Isom, Bill Ferguson, Mark DiNunzio, Kim Girard, Michele Zahner, Tom Lamkin and Lynn Sine. Many have been with the program since its inception.

“The success of this program isn’t due to me, but rather to the absolute dedication and loyalty of the ranger volunteers,” Huggins said. “This group is the most talented, well trained and faithful to the cause that I have ever had the honor to work with. Without them, the naysayers would have been right. When we first started we had many naysayers who said the program wouldn’t last a year; and I guess we proved them wrong.”

Some of the events in which the Rangers assisted included:

  • Spring Break and three-day weekends
  • Community Christmas tree lighting
  • Sedona Marathon
  • Vietnam Memorial Wall
  • Celebration of Spring
  • July 4 events
  • National Night Out
  • National Day of the Cowboy
  • Pumpkin Splash
  • Halloween events

“Like Grand Canyon Village or Yosemite Valley, Uptown has a very high concentration of visitors visiting a beautiful area, but concentrated in a very small area,” Huggins said. “Like a national park, the rangers provide a roving friendly contact where injured, confused or disoriented visitors feel comfortable approaching. In a way we act as city ambassadors personally welcoming our visitors and providing a contact point.”


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