Toddlers of Hesperia, rejoice: The playground at Hesperia Lake is reopening on Thursday.


The playground - and much of the non-lake, non-campsite areas of the park - has been closed since May, when the Hesperia Recreation and Park District decided to do much-delayed maintenance.


"Twenty years, look at this lawn," Hesperia Recreation and Park District General Manager Cal Camara said Friday. "When I got here, 20, 23 years ago, this was dirt."


Over the years, the district has planted trees, put down sod and laid down sidewalks, but always in a piecemeal fashion, resulting in a quilt of differing conditions in the park.


So the district erected a fence around much of the park and got to work.


"Trimmed all the trees, which is long overdue," said Camara. "You can't do that while people are in the park."


While the Native American Pow-Wow isn't taking place at the park this year - Camara says the event, or something like it, will be coming back soon - the district also improved the infrastructure to support events like it, with new electrical hubs placed around the park.


But new grass, trimmed trees and electricity without yard upon yard of extension cords aren't the only new attractions at Hesperia Lake: The district is stocking hybrid striper bass in the lake, supplementing its existing population of catfish, trout and sturgeon.


"It's something new," said facility lake manager Ed Rister. "The only thing [fishermen] are catching are trout and catfish. That's why the sturgeon were such a hit."


The fish - which are sterile and thus have a controlled population in the lake - will be stocked through October.


To get more Hesperians hunting the new fish, the Hesperia Recreation and Park District will be giving away a Hesperia Days raffle ticket for every hybrid striper caught in the park. (Hesperia Star readers can also get five raffle tickets for bringing in the photo of the hybrid striper from the June 30 issue of the Star.) Bring the fish -- or the photo -- to the Hesperia Lake main office.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.