A Michiana Life in the Spotlight: Phil Blasko

A Michiana Life in the Spotlight: Phil Blasko

Driven by a passion for community and a desire to raise his family in his hometown, Phil Blasko has been serving as the Mishawaka Parks and Recreation Superintendent for the past eight years. 

After graduating from Mishawaka High School, Blasko went on to Defiance College in Ohio, where he played basketball and earned a Bachelor of Science in sports management.

Blasko's career began with an internship at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in Defiance, Ohio. This experience solidified his passion for sports and recreation, as he recognized the positive impact the programs had on the community.

“I fell in love with giving back to the community and helping kids,” Blasko said. “Seeing how sports and programming can bring the community together and build relationships inspired me to pursue this path. That's when I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Following his internship, Blasko took on the role of sports director at a YMCA in Fremont, Ohio. He later looked to gain experience outside the nonprofit sector, so his career led him to Valparaiso, where he served as the city's park superintendent.

As Blasko began having kids, he felt a strong desire to return to Mishawaka to be nearer to his family. When he saw a job opening at Mishawaka Parks, he knew he had to apply.

“I wanted to raise my kids around my family, which led me to move back,” said Blasko. “The position at Mishawaka Parks opened up, and having seen the momentum we had in Valparaiso, I felt I could bring some of that success to Mishawaka and contribute significantly in the community.”

Since becoming Mishawaka Parks’ superintendent in 2016, Blasko has worked to make Mishawaka a place where people of all ages have something to do. Before he started, there were only about three events and two programs. Under his leadership, the number of events and programs has grown to over 50 events, 18 recreational leagues, and numerous summer camps.

Blasko's role also involves park renovations and improvements across the city. A recent notable project is the Ironworks Ice Rink in downtown Mishawaka. Other projects range from full neighborhood park renovations to adding Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant equipment. Redevelopments like these are what make Blasko's job fulfilling for him.

“My favorite part of the job is knowing the generational impact I can have in my position,” said Blasko. “When you redesign or redevelop a park, it not only impacts the current residents but also those who will live there for the next 20 to 30 years. That's what's really cool about this position—what we do now isn't just a one-time thing. Our park renovations have long-lasting effects.”

Outside of work, Blasko enjoys family time, particularly working on their annual Christmas light display which has become a beloved community tradition.

“One of my biggest passions with my kids is putting on a huge Christmas light display for the community every year,” Blasko said. “The community comes out in the thousands to see it.”

The display, which includes animatronics and thousands of lights, has captured the attention of many and will even be featured on the television show "The Great Christmas Light Fight" later this year.

This family tradition began when Blasko's daughter, now 11, was just 2 years old. Now every year, his children create new blueprints for the display.

Along with their light show, the Blasko family would also volunteer to serve food at the Center for the Homeless around Christmas time each year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that wasn’t possible for a while, so the family decided to turn their display into a fundraiser and have continued to do so ever since.

“When COVID hit, we couldn't volunteer at the Center for the Homeless as usual,” said Blasko. “Wanting to still help, my daughter came up with the idea to collect donations of hats, gloves, scarves, or money for the center. Last year, we raised over $10,000 as well as delivered three van loads of new clothes for those in need.”

Through Blasko's unwavering dedication to his community, both professionally and personally, the city continues to experience significant and lasting improvements.

“The culture and momentum in Mishawaka are heading in the right direction, which is great to see,” Blasko said. “We're focused on finding unique ways to engage our community, and we really depend on their support.”