I got married in 1965, moving to Urbana and joining my husband Ralph attending graduate school at the U of I. We often left the campus to relax with a walk in the neighborhood around Carle Park. Except for a few years away right after grad school, we’ve lived in Urbana ever since. Urbana’s wonderful parks, scattered throughout our city, have been a huge part of our lives. The parks bring together members of the community, giving people chances to interact with each other as well as to enjoy nature and many activities.
In Blair Park we played tennis and softball with our sons and our neighbors, and spent many Saturdays and afternoons at Park District Soccer practices and games. Now Blair Park’s sidewalk is great for walks and runs, and I admire its bright flowerbeds all season long.
For both sons, walking home from Leal School generally meant stopping to play in Carle Park, where they left behind enough jackets and lunch boxes to supply the neighborhood, or so it seemed to their frustrated parents. But they had a wonderful place for unstructured outdoor play. Now Carle Park with its huge old trees is a great place for us to enjoy the changing seasons, whether viewed walking on the path through the park or from the streets around it.
Since we began gardening at Meadowbrook in 1974, we were there once or twice a week during the gardening season even before the prairie had really developed into a Prairie, before the paved parking lot and wide sidewalks, long before the sculptures. Our sons dabbled in the brook while we pulled weeds. We had a good spot for observing the changes that have transformed Meadowbrook Park to the best place to walk for many miles around. It’s a community meeting place, and we rarely walk there without seeing friends.
Our sons had swimming lessons and meets at the old Crystal Lake Pool, but the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center was the place for our grandsons. Now I’m a regular at the early morning lap swims (I’m in Lane 3 in the picture to the right), enjoying sharing the locker room with not only swimmers but with the water-aerobics-class folks.
I was delighted with the chance to serve a term on UPDAC—Urbana Park District Advisory Committee—where I learned so much more about all of Urbana’s Parks. I also got to be a part of the tough decisions on priorities that must always be made to stick to the budget. Over the years Urbana’s parks have been enhanced by a great many generous gifts from individuals and businesses. Now I’m glad, as a member of the UPF Board, to help raise money for the never-ending stream of projects and enhancements that would not be possible on the Park District’s share of tax dollars alone.