Maple Grove Remembers Longtime Parks & Rec Employee
Every winter at Maple Grove’s Central Park, staff members prepare a crokicurl rink. It’s a sport that mixes curling with the board game crokinole.
“It’s a free activity,” said Maple Grove Special Events Coordinator Tanya Huntley in 2022. “We are just offering an extra activity to the community in the hopes of getting people outside in the winter and staying active and being healthy.”
Huntley was front and center to help explain the Canadian game when it debuted two years ago, which is fitting since she’s the one that brought it to Maple Grove.
“She sold us on it, you know, and it required a team effort,” said Chuck Stifter, Maple Grove’s parks and recreation director. “But it was her initiative and her creativity that brought it here.”
Stifter worked with Huntley for 23 years.
“Just a very special employee,” he said.
Huntley was a special employee who succumbed to a long illness at the age of 51 on Christmas eve. A GoFundMe Page set up in Huntley’s honor indicated that she had been fighting colon cancer.
In Maple Grove’s Park and Recreation office, dozens of photos are on display that showcase Huntley’s personality, and her many contributions to the city during her 24-year career.
“She was just very good at sort of managing chaos,” Stifter said. “We kind of called her the ‘chaos coordinator’ in the office, and assembling people and getting them on the right path to move forward to run an event or whatnot.”
‘She was wonderful’
Events were her specialty. Huntley had a role in nearly every major city festival and activity.
“I think what I remember the most is her love and passion for her job and the community,” said Phil Leith, a former council member and longtime member of the Maple Grove Lions.
Leith worked directly with Huntley on a number of events.
“She wanted to make sure every detail for every event was perfect, and the event came off as best it could be for everybody to experience it,” he said.
Leith even shared a personal anecdote about Huntley and her love of curling.
“I do spring curling every year over at St. Paul Curling Center, and one of my regular team members couldn’t participate that year, the work schedule was too tough or something,” Leith said. “And somehow, I was talking to Tanya about it and she said, ‘well I’m from Canada, we did curling in gym class. So I’d love to help you out and be on your team.’ So it was just another way of showing she always liked to be involved and help people.”
Every city needs opportunities for recreation and events for people to enjoy, and colleagues say that helping to deliver those services is where Huntley shined the most.
“We were lucky to have her,” said Stifter. “She was wonderful.”
A celebration of life was held this past weekend in Coon Rapids. Huntley is survived by two children.
Related: Try Out Crokicurl in Maple Grove