Meet The Brains Behind the Real Life Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation

The LA Local and Family Man Talks What Makes Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation So Special

Written By: Ashlee Polarek
Photographed By: Joe Nardello Manhattan Beach Parks and Rec

Expert: Mark Leyman Manhattan Beach Parks and Rec
Credentials: Director of the Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Department

Mark Leyman is the Director of the Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Department, and it’s more than the hit TV series leads on. When he’s not waking up before the sun to play a few rounds of beach volleyball on the gorgeous Manhattan Beach beaches, or hanging out with his son, he’s overseeing his department that helps build a thriving community. Mark and the rest of the department support the community of all ages, sports, arts and culture with concerts, renowned and local artists and the Manhattan Beach Open Volleyball Tournament. Mark is a true community man.

Q: What is is that you do?

Mark Leyman: More philosophically, I help to create a community. Parks and Recreation helps to build and create the fabric of the community. But, more technically, I oversee the Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation department which provides programming for all ages through sports, aquatics, recreation services, cultural arts, transportation, older adult programs and special events ranging from our Family Campout and Movie Nights to the Manhattan Beach Open Volleyball Tournament and Pumpkin Races.

Q: Do you have a favorite program that you are especially fond of?

ML: I love them all equally, but began my career at a senior center, so older adults are near and dear to my heart.

Q: What inspired you to get into Parks and Recreation?

ML: Two things. One, I was working at the YMCA as a volleyball instructor instructor, being exposed to the joy of teaching and recreating. The second was my first recreation professor at San Diego State University, Gene Lamke. His passion for public service and the many benefits of parks and recreation really inspired me.

Q: What makes your Cultural Arts Division unique?

ML: We have a fairly new cultural arts team that has reenergized the arts programs in Manhattan Beach. A unique feature that we have is a ceramic studio; we also have an art exhibition and an art center. We’ve had a number of spectacular artists recently, including Ed Moses and John Van Hamersveld.

Q: Where is your favorite place to go after a long day in the office?

ML: Home. Honestly, it would be home. I have a 10-year-old son and I just really enjoy spending time with him and my wife.

Q: What is an activity that you personally like to participate in?

ML: I got up at 5:45 a.m. this morning and played beach volleyball. Volleyball is my favorite activity, and of course, Manhattan Beach is the iconic volleyball city. I have also participated in our volleyball classes which include: beginning, intermediate, advanced, competition and volleyball camps.

Q: What does the future hold for Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation?

MK: The future is bright for Parks and Recreation in the City of Manhattan Beach. We have an incredible team that continues to innovate and create a wide range of programs for all ages and abilities. We enjoy the challenge of continuously improving and looking for ways to provide the best Recreation programs.

Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation
1400 Highland Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266  Manhattan Beach Parks and Rec
310.802.5400 Manhattan Beach Parks and Rec

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Ashlee is a freelance writer with a focus on travel, lifestyle and food. After obtaining her degree in Journalism she took the world by storm teaching in South Korea and giving motivation speeches across the United States. She can often be found on road-trips, plane rides and cooking up her favorite meal from her most recent travels. The anti-homebody loves a good hike, good book and a day spent with friends.


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