The History of All of Us: Curveballs and First Kisses in Your Local ParkSerge Bielanko
Every park has it’s history.
And when I say history I don’t really mean who founded the thing or paid for the land or cut the ribbon with a funny giant pair of scissors long ago on some sunny Saturday morning, when the whole neighborhood (or even the whole darn town) came out to see the shiny new swing sets, the crew-cut ball fields, and the freshly painted benches scattered all around.
No, what I’m talking about is a better history than all that. What I’m talking about is the rich and storied history of the people who took that park and made it their own, the people who called that park ‘their park’…or ‘our park.”
Preparing to tell you a little more about Coca-Cola’s America Is Your Park (AIYP) program got me to thinking about that recently. It’s pretty fascinating to glance on any park, anywhere in this vast country, and imagine all of the people who have made memories there. Parks play such a huge role in so many of our lives, including mine.
Our moms put us on our first swing ride there when we are just a few months old.
We meet our best friends there after school.
We take our first cuts at a curve-ball out on their diamonds and then later in life, watch our sons and daughters take theirs too.
Heck, I even had my first kiss in the park in my hometown, many years ago, to a really cute girl who has probably long since forgotten my name. But I know I’m not alone there. I know that a lot of fellows like me probably felt the fireworks of a first kiss in their hometown parks too. And then, just like me, that kiss became just a little tiny part of the history of the place.
This summer, as Coca-Cola once again prepares to bestow some really generous recreation grants on three American parks, I am feeling the love these parks have given us all these years. And I am really rooting for our family’s favorite, Tallyrand Park, to come up big. Coke has been doing this for a couple of years now and the contest has gotten so popular that the First Prize grant is $100,000.
That’s a staggering sum for any park to win, and I know that we here in sleepy Bellefonte would simply love to pour that sort of money into Tallyrand Park’s future.
I spend so much time there with my Violet, 3, and Henry, 1, that there are days when I cannot help but think to myself that if it didn’t exist, if the park was just another factory grounds like it was once long ago, or if it was just another strip mall or a gas station, that although my kids are young, there are already a heap of super memories that we have together that simply wouldn’t even be a part of our story, of our lives.
We are really lucky to have such a cool place to go to, and I want to make sure it stays that way. And, I’m not going to lie here, I want to do it with the free money from Coca-Cola.
So, if you have a second in your crazy day, could you maybe help us out? It’s super simple. Just head on over to the Coca-Cola’s America Is Your Park (AIYP) voting site and vote for Tallyrand Park. There’s is a really easy-to-use interactive map there and Tallyrand Park is listed and located smack dab in the center of the great state of Pennsylvania, in Bellefonte.
And listen, if you have your own park in mind, and need to graciously pass on your vote to yourfavorite place to unwind and feed ducks or hit curve-balls or play stickball or Frisbee or watch your little ones speeding down the slide so fast that they might even give you a happy heart attack. Well…I totally understand. You can also add a Facebook badge to encourage others to vote for your park
There are a lot of parks close to a lot of people’s hearts out there, as it should be.
I really feel a strong connection to a place, to my home, when I stand with my one year-old son and my three year-old daughter and watch them running across the same ground that so many other kids have run across in the days and years before we showed up there. That’s one of the reasons why I guess I’ve become so attached to Tallyrand Park. Sure, I know, it’s this place where I can let them blow off some steam and get a little fresh air on a regular basis, there’s no doubt about that.
But it’s also so much more than that too, you see.
Because Tallyrand Park is a really huge part of growing up in our town.
Feeding the ducks in it’s stream and hanging off it’s jungle gym and just falling down in a heap of giggles out there on it’s sun-splashed lawns, all of that is as much a part of living in Bellefonte as anything I can possibly think of. Each of us who plays there or who bring our children to play there are connected because of Tallyrand Park. We are all members of a small but mighty community of people who realize that having a place where our kids can jump and climb and laugh and smile in the great outdoors is really vital and integral to our family’s happiness. And that is something worth preserving tomorrow and for a lot of years down the line.
So, please take Coca-Cola up on their generosity, okay? There’s a mountain of memories out there just waiting to be made, so vote for my park.
Or go ahead and vote for yours.
And may the best park win.
“This is sponsored content from Babble and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Coca-Cola. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Only legal residents of the 50 U.S. (and D.C.) who are at least 13 years old and reside within the U.S. at the time of participation are eligible to vote for a Park. Participate on behalf of a Park by: July 15, 2012. The 3 most popular Parks will be offered a grant and there will be 1 Wild Card drawing at the end of the Contest to award an additional grant. To participate, for Official Rules, and complete details including grant descriptions, visit www.LivePositively.com/parks. Void where prohibited. Click here to see more of the discussion.”
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
Keep up with Babble.com on Facebook.
More from Serge: