The official name is The Fairhoper’s Community Park. Over the years, locals have come up with their own names. Many referred to it as “The Wooden Park,” due to the wooden structures it once had. My children always called it, “The Dinosaur Park,” because of the dinosaur sculptures at the entrance.
But whatever you called it, it was time to give it a facelift. So, out came the bulldozers, and away went the old wooden playthings. In came the new shiny plastic playground equipment. It hurt our hearts to see our memories torn away.
I’ve never really shown close up photos of my children, but since my eldest is out of the house (any minute now), I wanted to show you some of the photos we took for his senior portraits. He chose to use the old park as his backdrop just days before it was demolished. This was the place we held his Superhero 5 -year -old birthday party, and spent many other happy days. You can see in the background a tiny bit of what the old park looked like.
And although we were sad to lose the old structures, which had been built board by board with the hands of volunteers, we knew it was for the best. Not only had the wood started to wobble and splinter here and there, we also realized children with limited abilities couldn’t access all of the features. Thankfully, the dinosaurs remained to oversee the entire project.
Governor Robert Bentley came, along with other dignitaries, to help dedicate the new park, which is in a walkable part of our downtown. When I asked the Governor which piece of playground equipment he would run to first if he were a little boy for the day, he looked around, and then spotted the tallest most fierce looking climbing tower that had a giant corkscrew slide. “I’d go for that” he said. But the heat of the mid-August day in South Alabama brought out his practical side and with a twinkle in his eye, added, “Then, I’d run for the splash pad.”
The children who once played on the Wooden Park were grown and gone, with only their handprints left behind. And I realized that although the Fairhoper’s Community Park has changed, it’s still the happiest place in town.