‘SERENDIPITOUS’: Parks assistant director takes unexpected leap


Former Indianapolis radio and TV host Julie Patterson grabs dinner at one of the local vendors while attending the 5th Annual Cumberland Blues, Beer, and BBQ Festival on Saturday, June 26, 2021. Patterson was recently promoted to assistant director of the Greenfield Parks Department.

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Parks Department has a new assistant director.

Julie Patterson stepped into the role Thursday, just three months after joining the staff as the new special events and programming specialist.

Patterson became well known to many through her years as a radio and TV personality in Indianapolis, hosting the popular morning show on WZPL-99.5 FM for parts of the mid-80s and 90s, on up to 2004, then serving as traffic director for WISH-TV Daybreak until 2014.

Her latest role with the parks comes at a time when her career is focused on giving back to the community after working in the fast-paced world of broadcasting for decades.

Patterson came to the Greenfield Parks after serving two years as special projects coordinator for the Town of Cumberland, orchestrating community events like the Cumberland Arts Festival and the Blues, Beer and BBQ events, among others.

She admits that stepping up into the role of the parks assistant director was nowhere on her radar, not even after the former assistant director — Skye Mackenzie — resigned three weeks ago to take a job with a different parks department.

“I think it’s… serendipitous,” she said, struggling to find the right word to describe the unexpected promotion.

“God always has a plan, and you don’t always know what it is or why some things happen the way they do or in a particular order,” she said, but she’s embracing this new chapter.

Patterson said she felt at home right away with the Greenfield Parks staff, which not only runs the city’s parks and pool but programs a number of events through the city, including a summer day camp, preschool and the popular summer concert series at Depot Street Park.

“This staff is a community of people that gel very well together,” said Patterson, who came on board in February.

“You can ask questions and people have answers, and are happy to help. You don’t feel isolated like you’re on your own. There’s a lot of support from all directions, and I felt that immediately. I also like that you’re tasked to do something and you’re trusted to do that. I like getting things done,” she said.

Patterson said a lot of the work she was doing as the park’s special events and programming specialist dovetails nicely with her new role as assistant director.

“I was already dealing with sponsorships and community partnerships, and I love the programs and events part of the job,” she said.

Special events have always been a part of Patterson’s career, especially when she was working as a morning radio host for WZPL.

One of her favorite promotions was the “Live in It to Win It” contest, which invited four strangers to live alongside each other inside a car parked within the Greenwood Park Mall, or the Crush contest, where players chugged Orange Crush for the chance to meet Jon Bon Jovi.

While she may not do anything quite as wacky at the Greenfield Parks, Patterson does look forward to hosting fun family programming throughout the year, especially the Summer Concert Series at Depot Street Park.

Patterson recalls being impressed when she attended an Aerosmith tribute band concert last summer. She reached out to concert coordinators afterward to pick up tips on how to enhance the Cumberland concert series.

Little did she know she’d be leading the Greenfield Parks team for the 2023 concert season, which kicks off June 9.

“I’ve been told this is our busy season, and I’ve also been told ignorance is bliss as far as that’s concerned,” she said, with her trademark hearty laugh.

“There’s just a lot going on, but if everyone tackles the list it will get done. Overseeing the bigger picture and facilitating the bigger picture comes naturally to me I think. I’m looking forward to getting a year under my belt and experiencing all our events for the first time.”

Patterson said she learned a lot from her predecessor, Skye McKenzie, in the three months they worked together.

“He taught me a lot in the short time I worked with him,” she said.

Greenfield Parks director Ellen Kuker said she has no doubt Patterson will make an excellent assistant director.

“Julie came to us with a lot of good experience that enabled her to make an immediate impact. Her work history and background compliment the assistant director’s roles and responsibilities,” Kuker said.

“In a short period of time, she has enhanced our community outreach effort, rolled her sleeves up and immersed herself in our community events, and has made incredible strides in our sponsorship efforts. Building on these successes, we are excited to have her in an elevated leadership role.”