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Parks and Rec Class Registration Crashes, Again

by ARLnow.com December 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm 4,434 41 Comments

Overzealous parents may have helped to bring down the server that hosts the Arlington parks and recreation class registration system this morning.

Registration for winter parks and recreation classes, popular with school-aged children, opened at 8:00 a.m. The registration website was beset by technical problems within 5 minutes of the opening, but was back up and working by 8:15 a.m., according to Arlington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

Even though the problems lasted less than 15 minutes, some parents — who rushed to register their children for classes before the classes filled up — weren’t pleased. Similar technical problems have plagued the class registration system in the past.

“Server crashes have happened repeatedly on the morning of class signup — to the frustration of parents across Arlington trying to sign their kids up for classes,” one parent told ARLnow.com.

Another tipster said that the timing of the registration opening — around the same time that kids are getting ready for school — has made things unnecessarily difficult for parents.

“The problem is that some of the classes fill up so fast and if you can’t get through by the time you do someone else has your class and you are wait listed,” the parent said. “Also try working on this with kids running around trying to get ready for school and climbing on you. Not easy. This happens every registration.”

Another source of frustration for some: this year’s class schedule erroneously listed the registration date as “Wednesday, Dec. 13.”

Kalish said the parks department is working with its technology vendor to identify the source of this morning’s problems. Despite the fact that online registration number have “increased significantly over the past few years,” Kalish said server capacity was likely not the culprit this year.

“In the past, the registration volume in the first 10-15 minutes of registration has taxed our servers,” Kalish said. “We addressed that issue prior to this registration cycle and our servers functioned well and were not at capacity this morning. We are working with the vendor to explore what else could be contributing to this issue.”

Kalish said today is one of the  busiest days for class registration, though the first day of summer camp registration is usually the busiest.

  • John Fontain
    • Josh S


      Did I miss anything?

      • John Fontain

        I can’t answer your question unless I know what those words are supposed to relate to.

        • Anon

          Those words relate to your post, as you well know.

          • John Fontain

            Oh, well then let me add…

            A joke.

      • G

        Yeah, “Funny”

    • Bluemontsince1961

      GASP! OMG! Racist, racist, racist, racist against white people! I’m gonna tell the PC police on you!

      LOL! Jeesh, people can’t seem to take a joke or laugh at themselves these days. I’ve actually seen and heard people with the exact mindset in the link, and not all of them were teenage girls!

    • Louise


  • E

    Agreed. Any chance we can find out what new business is opening in the area, that would be awesome.

  • drax

    It happens every time. They need to find a better way of doing this.

  • Jason

    We registered this morning. We ended up being an hour and a half late for work trying to get our kids out the door and manage this online process during the most hectic part of our day.

    8:00 on a weekday is the absolute worst possible time to open a registration like this. Do it at noon, or in the evening.

    I will be contacting the Parks and Recreation Commission to urge the Department to come up with a more reasonable time for sign-ups and a better system for doing so. There also needs to be a preference. I you sign up for Class 1 and then get blocked from Class 2 (i.e. the next grade level of swimming) there’s no point.

    • dirty biker

      I feel your pain. My usually mellow wife called to vent about the crash… I could hear our “little darlings” staging a coup in the background while practicing fun new words acquired during mommy’s time in the registration hell.

      I think that she was at least two hours late for work (and may never come home). Noon seems like a better time

    • John Fontain

      “We ended up being an hour and a half late for work trying to get our kids out the door and manage this online process during the most hectic part of our day.”

      Clearly you need an au pair.

    • Susan Kalish

      When would be a good time for class registration to begin? The idea of mid-day was tossed around but the fear was that most Arlingtonians have day jobs so having it mid-day would impact their work. Another idea could be to have it on Saturday.

  • Ann Perkins

    Quick! Someone let Leslie Knope know! She will fix it!

    • April Ludgate

      Jerry crashed the server talking to his Facebook friend.


      • Josh S

        I thought Jerry was a racecar driver…..

        • Josh S


      • April Ludgate

        Jerry Gergich

    • Resident

      Andy just diagnosed it — connectivity problems.

      • IT Guy

        Just turn it off and turn it back on again.

    • Leslie Knope

      I’m sure the parks and rec department can fix this problem. There’s nothing you can’t do if you work hard, never sleep, and shirk all other responsibilities in your life.

  • John Fontain

    I can’t believe my son got wait-listed for the advanced fencing course ‘Fencing 404 – Practice and Techniques of the Epee.’ This unacceptable situation will cast doubt on his ability to enter national level university tournaments in 10 years at age 14 as we had planned. Someone at the Parks and Rec department must be held accountable for this!

    • Bluemontsince1961

      ROFLMAO! Excellent! There are actually a couple of parents in my neighborhood that would use those exact words if one of their “little preciouses” had to be on a waiting list for anything! Bravo, maestro!

    • OX4

      Bravo, my friend. I bow to your excellent post.

  • Bob

    Misleading lede to this article. This had nothing to do with “overzealous” parents. The problems today resulted from a system that again was ill-equipped to deal with demand.

    • Village Genius

      Relax. The County Board is getting ready to spend $39 million on an old building. I have confidence that the $39 million for more office space will help way down the road with the registration process for the parks department.

    • Josh S

      Yeah, I agree. Certainly a strange choice of words. Experience teaches that if you don’t sign up right away for certain classes, you don’t get them. So, you are told this is when the system opens up and you attempt to use the advertised system at the advertised time. How is this “overzealous?”

      Who gets to say what is “overzealous” and what is not? I suspect it is people observing other people acting enthusiastically about something that they, themselves, are not enthusiastic about. Sounds pretty junior high to me…..

  • Bon Air mom

    Count me as overzealous. As a single working mom, I must try and get into a class that isn’t in the middle of the workday. One class only offers 3 sessions on the weekend and they fill up in 5 minutes. For the class we did get, we did not get our first choice because of the system overload. This happens EVERY TIME and I’m hard pressed to believe that the county doesn’t know it or can’t fix it. Come up with a better system soon, guys.

  • Lyon Village Speedbump

    I would blame the Technology department… they run the systems the county uses.

  • Arlington Mom

    I agree with the rational posts above. First of all, 8 am is absolutely ridiculous to do an online registration when Moms are getting kids to school and trying to get to work themselves. So, I make the sacrifice to be late for work unnecessarily because the system crashed on me 15 times (I had 2 computers going too) and yes, my daughter was screaming because I am screaming and all we want is to get into a gymnastics or ballet class that isn’t in the middle of the day when working Moms can’t make it. After 15 minutes I give up because I have to get out the door and we are both melting down. Nice to know the system came back up at that time. Obviously, the demand is there, why can’t the County come up with a solution for those classes that fill so quickly? We are willing to pay the money if you just make it available. For now, I’m looking elsewhere – outside the county that is!

    • John Fontain

      “I agree with the rational posts above.”

      Thank you.

      “(I had 2 computers going too)”

      Nope, that’s not overzealous.

      • Josh S

        I suspect you tripped people in school and laughed at them, too.

    • OX4

      Yikes @ your life

      • Josh S

        Childless, I assume?

        Her life sounds pretty typical. Maybe (hopefully) a bit exaggerated with the screaming, but juggling kids and this kind of thing and work in the AM is not easy. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not really that big of deal, either. Hardly worth a “yikes.”

  • SUE

    They never f*king send us a catalog—even after mutliple requests. I never know the damn schedule or when sign up starts. This—coupled with the fact that non-Arlington residents can fill slots COMPLETELY PISSES ME OFF!!

    • ArlResident

      Amen, do you know when I got my catalog? Yesterday afternoon, approximately 8 hours after the online registration system opened and promptly sold out of everything. Maybe it was the county’s way of limiting the people in the online system so it wouldn’t crash… oops, guess that plan didn’t work. BTW, only Arlington residents can register in the beginning, you have to list your address. They open it up to Non-Arlington residents a bit later, at least that’s how it used to be.

      • Sue

        I just got mine today. F*cking brilliant.

        • Susan Kalish

          Arlington Residents register two weeks before nonresidents. The catalog marks an HD in front of classes that have high demand to warn people to register for these ASAP. Hopefully putting a note on the class and giving Arlingtonians two weeks lead will ensure those who really want the class won’t blocked by a non-resident. Sadly, this doesn’t help classes being filled with residents.

  • 22213

    I got my catalog today, Weds., with the helpful note that registration begins on Weds., December 13. So even if I’d wanted to camp out online at 7:59am, I still would’ve missed it. We belong to the Y for swim lessons (not in Arlington) so we don’t have to deal with this crap — better service would bring more dollars to the County, but I guess that’s not their priority.

    • Susan Kalish

      The class catalog was scheduled to mail on 11/29….more than enough time for people to get the catalog in time. Sadly, the printer mailed it 12/5.

      We are looking into canceling the vendor contract with the printer. In the five years I’ve worked on this project, the catalog has never been mailed later than a day off before. The vendor said this was a fluke, but it really hurt people trying to get into high demand classes.


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