Now that our Summer Camp Guide is out and a big part of it are camps offered from Fairfield Park and Rec we thought a perfect Mom to highlight is Gaylen Brown, the Assistant Director. Not only is Gaylen great to work with she is a pretty new Mom of the cutest daughter Austen. We met when she very newly pregnant in February 2019 and have enjoyed working together and putting together different events together, hopefully more soon!

Where are you originally from and how long have you been in the area?

I’m originally from Westchester, but grew up in Long Island. My husband and I moved to
Fairfield just about six years ago.

Children / Age(s)

We have one daughter, Austen Rae. She is (almost) nineteen months!

One thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I’ve had many different careers before landing in Parks & Recreation; from Dog Groomer to
Casino Host to Spa Director…and many in between!

One thing you wish someone would have told you about motherhood?

That is so hard to say; I feel like when you are expecting… you are bombarded with advice.
However, none of it really resonates until you have your baby. Now, every time I think back to
people saying “…everything changes…” it definitely means a lot more to me now!!

Favorite local things to do in Fairfield?

Without sounding like an advertisement for Parks & Recreation… I absolutely love hiking around
Lake Mohegan or going for long walks at Penfield & Jennings Beaches.

What’s your favorite thing about raising a family in the area?

I mean, I’ll definitely keep you posted on this… but for us… Fairfield has it all. Great restaurants,
solid school system, lots of family friendly activities, proximity to the beaches, accessibility to
NYC and beyond…There is also a great sense of community here; even though there are over
60,000+ residents, Fairfield maintains that small town warmth and appeal.

Do you have a favorite family friendly restaurant?  Date night?

Prior to the pandemic, Austen was really beginning to develop a few local favorites including
Chips, Brick + Wood and Mecha! Date night feels like a long time ago! Barcelona is one of our
favorite restaurants. We’ve also been known to grab a pizza from Frank Pepe’s and head down
to the beach for dinner!

What is your go-to activity for your family?  For yourself?

We love getting fresh air and exercise. You’ve probably seen us enjoying Knapps Green every
weekend; swinging in the sunshine, sledding in the snow! I try to carve out a little time for myself
each day. I absolutely love cooking, doing Beach Body videos in my garage and (New Year’s
Resolution in full effect) reading every night!

Best mom hack that makes your life easier?

Gosh, if I can think of one… I’ll let you know!! All kidding aside, I am pretty disciplined when it
comes to making a grocery list and food shopping on the weekends. I’ll prep a lot of food on
Sundays, which takes a lot of pressure off during the week.

Name one thing you regret when learning the ropes of parenthood and what you learned
from it?

It has been really challenging to navigate the waters of new parenthood amidst the pandemic.
On one hand, spending all of the extra time with Austen during quarantine was incredible. Being
there when she first started to crawl… first rolled over. Those moments are invaluable and
having the opportunity to experience so much of it firsthand, was priceless. On the other hand, it
can really feel very isolating at times. When we return to “normal*” (*whatever that means) I
want to make sure that we do a really good job of being out & about, socializing and
experiencing all that Fairfield has to offer (outside of a never-ending loop of COCOMELON!!)

How does Park and Rec decide on different events and activities they put on?

I think the team does a really good job of balancing tried & true favorites with incorporating new
ideas. First and foremost, we’re given free rein to try out any program or idea we’re passionate
about. If it is successful, we can take it and run with it. If it doesn’t quite hit the mark, we can go
back to the drawing board and try something else out. We’re also really good about surveying
our patrons; we get some of our best ideas from feedback provided from our program & event
surveys.

What are the most popular Park and Rec programs and events?

Oh gosh, there really are so many to choose from. Our Soccer Leagues and Summer Camp
programs are incredibly popular; certain camp locations and soccer age groups reach maximum
enrollment within moments of registration. In terms of events, our Sand Jam Movie Nights and
Peanut Butter Jams have a huge following. We were relieved that we were able to offer these
events last summer (with modifications) and look forward to offering them again this summer.
Over the past few years, we’ve also introduced ticketed events at Penfield Pavilion; everything
from Comedy Shows to Tribute Concerts, DIY Nights to Dance Parties. Overall, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re looking forward to resuming our calendar of special
events there!

What can the people New to Fairfield know about Park and Rec?
Parks &  Recreation is the heart of Fairfield; a Department focused on bringing the community
together. We are here for you ~ call, email or stop by the office anytime. We offer a wealth of
knowledge about all things Fairfield and are a one-stop-shop for your Beach, Golf, Marina,
Pavilion, Tennis, Bocce, Picnic, Bonfire, Special Event, Program and Activity needs (to name a
few!)

Now that capacities are opening up for indoor gatherings are there openings at the
pavilion and how do we get a hold of you to look and book the space?

I am always happy to organize tours of the Pavilions and can provide availability and pricing as
requested. One of the highlights of my job is to help plan special occasions at our beautiful
beachfront venues. I can be reached by phone (203.256.3191) or email (gbrown@fairfieldct.org)
anytime.

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