Tuesday night was a big night in Southwest Minneapolis. It was finally the opening of a long-awaited, highly anticipated newly constructed park in one of the finest locations of the city: The beloved Lake Harriet Bandshell.
Minneapolis is known for its parks. It has been said that there is a park every 6-8 blocks within the city limits. I highly believe it. We have parks everywhere and not only have the parks provided endless entertainment and opportunities to be active outside for the city’s children, they have also inspired and built a sense of community that makes this large city seem small.
Since I’m obviously a little biased about Minneapolis, I thought I’d give you Wikipedia’s description of our parks:
The Minneapolis park system has been called the best-designed, best-financed, and best-maintained in America. Foresight, donations and effort by community leaders enabled Horace Clevelandto create his finest landscape architecture, preserving geographical landmarks and linking them with boulevards and parkways. The city’s Chain of Lakes, consisting of seven lakes and Minnehaha Creek, is connected by bike, running, and walking paths and used for swimming, fishing, picnics, boating, and ice skating. A parkway for cars, a bikeway for riders, and a walkway for pedestrians runs parallel along the 52 miles (84 km) route of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway.
There used to be an old, 1970′s styled park located directly above the Lake Harriet Bandshell. It had old-school slides and climbing structures that I remember freshly as a child. Last fall, it was torn down in anticipation for the new park that would be built over the spring offering perhaps the most beautiful park setting in all the city.
Over the months we watched it be built. Slowly the old equipment was removed and bulldozers took over the hilltop where the park would be rebuilt. It became an agonizing wait. When would it be done? my children asked impatiently. It was anyone’s guess.
Finally, towards the start of summer the bulldozers left and what remained was a child’s fantasyland. Huge, dreamlike structures to climb on, play, explore and enjoy were standing tall on the hill above Lake Harriet, reminding us that the greatest gift of a child is their imagination. But the gray chained fence remained.
Why weren’t they opening the park? everyone moaned. On my daily runs around the lake, I pondered at the question myself until I noticed the tiny sprouts of green. Because of the grass! They were waiting until the dirt hill grew grass! The wait remained agonizing and the park sat there closed on the hill, teasing us as we rode our bikes by. Then finally we saw the note: “Grand Opening Ceremony and Celebration on Tuesday, July 17th”! We could hardly wait.
I feel so blessed to live in such a fabulous urban park! Minneapolis is truly a great city and if you can tolerate the extremes in weather (cold winters and hot, sizzling summers) it can’t be beat.
To read more articles on Minneapolis parks, check out these posts I had written earlier: