Last week I wrote about the terrific parks here in San Francisco. At the end of that post I asked if there were great parks in your city. That got me thinking this week about the parks in my hometown of Tucson, Arizona. There are definitely a few that stand out in my memories. I recently visited Tohono Chul Park there for the first time but it’s other parks that I want to talk about here:
Reid Park and Zoo
The big park that immediately comes to mind is Reid Park. This centrally located park is home to Reid Park Zoo, which is the main attraction here. I certainly went there plenty of times, especially since during and after high school my best friend at the time volunteered then worked there. But there is also a lot of other things to see and do in this park and I was there often for those things as well.
For example, this park has a theater area with a stage that is host to a variety of events. I went to Shakespeare in the Park here. I went to the annual Peace Festival a few times here. I remember a few other events that were filled with people, booths and music although I can’t think specifically now what the events were.
There is a rose garden in this park. There is a lake in the middle of this park where we used to go feed the ducks (first me as a kid and then later me with my foster kids and the kids from the group home I worked at). There are a couple of different playground areas and some baseball fields.
Himmel Park is another centrally located park, much smaller than Reid Park and more of a neighborhood locals park. It’s special to me because there’s a Baskin Robbins near there and my mom would take us there to get ice cream and then play in the park. Later I would take kids I was babysitting to this park to play on the playground. It kept a large metal slide after many Tucson parks got rid of them (because frankly hot metal in a city that gets 100+ degrees every summer was never too bright, but still that slide was fun).
Himmel Park is home to a Himmel Library and this was the library I went to most often as an adult. I took literacy training classes there to learn how to teach an illiterate adult to read. I took the child I tutored here to pick up books to read.
Himmel Park has a historic train car to check out. It has tennis courts. People often play soccer and baseball here. And there is no stage but summer nights sometimes find people putting on plays here. I saw some sort of Shakespeare play here once, possibly MacBeth. More good memories.
This park isn’t actually called Silverbell Park but it’s on Silverbell Road and that’s what we always called it. It was the park closest to my parents’ home. It’s where I learned to ride a bike. It’s where my siblings played Little League ball. It’s where we went swimming. It’s where we rolled down what seemed like large hills until we got dizzy and did underdogs on the swings. There is always a large party happening here with someone whose rented a bouncing castle and is barbecuing something. It’s a family park and one filled with activities and memories for me.
This should not be mistaken with the park at Silverbell Lake, which is further north than the park I’m talking about. Silverbell Lake is a nice little manmade lake and there is a great park there. You can fish, I think, and you can walk around. I remember seeing the moon rise here one night in a really cool way. Definitely some good memories at that one as well.
My Childhood Park
Silverbell Park was my childhood park from the age of 5 on but before that we lived in a different part of town and I had another childhood park. I don’t know the name of it. Looking at a Google Map I think it could be La Madera Park but I’m not 100% sure about that. It’s a small park, the kind of corner park that would be easily found today here in San Francisco. But it has memories. It has memories I barely remember because I was so young. And memories I made later when I was chasing my own childhood history and drove over there a few times to journal.
This is a large park where concerts are held and other events take place. It’s a big popular party park. I actually never went here as a kid so it doesn’t hold those memories for me. However, it was a place where I often supervised foster children with their siblings and parents when I was a foster parent and a Child Protective Services volunteer so it comes to mind because of the memories I saw there.
This was another park, like Kennedy, that I didn’t really know as a kid. I think it’s possible I’d actually been there before during one of my brother’s many sports games growing up but it didn’t stand out. It is an Eastside park and we lived on the West side. But the group home that I worked at in my early twenties was located near here. On weekends we had to take the kids out of the house for the bulk of the day and we didn’t have money to do anything with them so we often went to parks. This one had a rec center we could sometimes use so this was one we often went to.