"New Beginnings" is the eleventh episode of season 6 of the NBC television series Parks and Recreation, and the 101st episode overall. It premiered on January 16, 2014 to 3.05 million viewers.


Leslie Knope returns to her position as Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department on a full-time basis, having worked part-time at the Parks Department during her tenure on the city council. Upon her return, she expects everything to be the same as it was when she left, with her having to do the bulk of the work and her co-workers showing disinterest in whatever project is coming up. What she instead finds is a reformed department, with April Ludgate handling Animal Control with ease, and Tom Haverford firing on all cylinders in his new role of Business Liaison. Tom announces he is going to be presenting his lemonade stand idea to the Small Business Coalition, having enlisted a juice company to run a lemonade stand in one of Pawnee's parks to replace a retiring hot stew chef. Leslie is impressed with Tom's initiative, but is not impressed with Tom's choice to not follow her specially-designed project binder – The Leslie Knope Project Preparedness Super System – that has been a staple in the Parks Department for 10 years. Feeling that Tom is going to fail in his presentation, Leslie decides to convince the hot stew chef, Stu Fretch, to not go into retirement and she decides to represent him. She later goes head-to-head with Tom in front of the Small Business Coalition, but after Ron Swanson notes how much Tom has changed over the time Leslie was on the city council, Leslie decides to fluff her presentation – her damning words on the rigors of re-entering the hot stew stand leaves Stu realizing he's made a terrible mistake, and he flees. Tom goes on to nail his presentation, leaving Leslie to wonder if she is actually needed anymore at the Parks Department. Ron laments that the department has outgrown her need to nurture it, as it has become a well-functioning government agency.

Meanwhile, it is Ben Wyatt's first day as Pawnee's City Manager, having taken over from Chris Traeger. He attempts to demonstrate to April, Andy Dwyer and Donna Meagle that he is a manager that is approachable and chilled, but also implements a number of new rules to assert his position as a no-nonsense boss. Donna can tell he is very tightly wound at the moment, so the trio prank him with a false arrest to lighten him up. Ben does not exactly see the funny side, so he issues a memo to the trio warning them if they do something like that again, he'll have to suspend them. Andy convinces Ben he could loosen up a little and suggests instead of punishing them, prank them back. But Ben can't go through with it as it becomes too stressful for him. However, his lame attempt to even try a prank is good enough to earn the trio's affection. That night, Donna explains to Ben that they didn't prank him because they don't respect him, but rather because they love him.

Elsewhere, Chris and Ann Perkins decide they should be a married couple considering their predicament and their plans for the future. They commit to buying an engagement ring, but over the course of the day at the jewelry store, they toss and turn over whether or not they actually need a ring to signify their relationship or their love for each other. They eventually choose a simple locket over an expensive ring, of which they plan to put a picture of their child in. It is clear to both of them that they have never been traditional or conventional, so why start now.

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