Fairhopers Community Park

August 19, 2014



Fairhoper's Community Park - Leslie Anne TarabellaThe 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.


Fairhoper's Community Park - Leslie Anne TarabellaBut 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.

Fairhoper's Community Park - Leslie Anne TarabellaI’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.

Fairhope Park - Leslie Anne TarabellaAnd 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.

Fairhope Community Park - Leslie Anne TarabellaSome of the old artwork was kept and reused, and care was taken to make it friendly to kids of all ages. The old xylophone was given a tune-up and used by new hands to bring music to the town.


Leslie Anne Tarabella and Alabama Governor Robert BentleyGovernor 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.”


Fairhope Park - Leslie Anne TarabellaAs I looked around the park, there was a new generation of children skipping and playing, with families running behind them, laughing in the hot sunshine.

Fairhope Community Park - Leslie Anne TarabellaThe 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.



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  1. Your wonderful stories of Fairhope just may cause a population explosion. Seems like a great place to live.
    Oh, your son is a very handsome guy.

    1. We’re already one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, and I don’t want to be blamed for the explosion, so we’ll just start being very selective about who we let in! Hahaha!
      And thanks for the kind nod to my son. I think he’s awesome.

  2. I love that your son chose the wooden playground as his backdrop for his senior portrait. That’s awesome. As a reseller, my mind always thinks about the value of everything and I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone got some of that old aged wood to use for repurposing.
    I’m so happy they kept the dinosaurs.

    1. From what I’ve heard, the city saved every possible piece that could be reused either at the park or somewhere else. Some of the pieces are being stored in a warehouse until they find the right home for them. I’m glad the City of Fairhope thinks about things like this, because you are right in thinking a lot of people would toss everything into the landfill.

  3. I love that your son chose to have his senior portrait taken at the park. Not only will it help him to always remember the old place but it also speaks to his warm feelings about childhood days spent there!

  4. Your boy is mighty handsome and certainly favors you.

    It is wonderful that they saved what they could –maybe one day, some clever person will make something new with it that will infuse a new place with all those good memories.

  5. Nostalgia…the teen for his childhood playground and his Mother for the little boy that played there. Precious memories.

  6. What a great question to ask the Governor. Bet he has never been asked that before and probably enjoyed getting to answer it.

    1. He did look a bit surprised, especially after I said, “I have a deeply political question to ask . . .” But then he laughed.

  7. I didn’t even realize they’d have it done this fast. I’m glad to know it’s done just in time for school to start back up. HA! In any case, I think the splash pad is a great idea to beat the heat and I’m actually itching to go down there to see the rest of it. If only I had a kid or two so I’m not the creepy lady at the park. . .I guess I’ll have to wait for my nieces to come spend the night.
    I love how touching you made this story, how personal. I’m sure your son is mortified! 😉

  8. This was a great tribute to both your son and the park. We had pictures made there when we left Fairhope in 2000 when the kids were 15 and 8. Now I’m so glad we did, but like CraftyHope, I wish I could go and check it out. The splash pad will be a big hit, I’m sure.

  9. It is sad to see old favorite things demolished but I’m sure the new playground will be wonderful. Your son must be the same age as my son (18 and leaving for college in 13 days.) Lovely senior shots.

  10. Bittersweet, I am sure it really hit your heart right now, to see the playground changing as your son heads off to college~ it’s wonderful that they re-purposed the old with the new~

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