At long last, a park on Pine Avenue

December 1, 2011

A grand opening with TPL's Carolyn Ramsay

It was spitting rain as we hung papel picado around Pine Avenue Park on the morning of November 12. It was a windy, gray Saturday, and the opening celebration for the park—the first designed and built by The Trust for Public Land in Los Angeles County—was just 45 minutes away

Then we felt raindrops. My heart sank like a stone. For events in Los Angeles—the city of endless sunshine—rain is death. The novelty of snow or even an earthquake can draw people out of their homes and businesses to marvel and chat. Rain, on the other hand, means everyone stays home.

The six women in our office had sent hundreds of invitations to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. My colleagues had gone door-to-door around Pine Avenue in Maywood to tell neighbors that the park they had wanted for 90 years was finally opening. We had booked a mariachi band and taste-tested warm churros from brown paper bags (yum!).

We were struggling to stay positive as we finished hanging decorations. Then, miraculously, the rain stopped. It was still gray and windy, but children started appearing on bikes and on foot with their parents tagging along. We had a party on our hands!

By the time the ceremony started, about 100 people had shown up. Dozens of kids were digging in the sand, climbing on the play features, and running around the park. The community gathered around the microphone and huge orange ribbon. Maywood Mayor Edward Varela gave his remarks. Enthusiastic funders Thomas Stephens of MetLife Foundation and Teresa Villegas and Mark Stanley of the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy also spoke, as did neighbors and several of us from The Trust for Public Land.

Through an interpreter, park neighbor Matilde Rosales said that at first she had not wanted the park. Project manager Tori Kjer asked for her signature on a petition on three separate occasions, and she said no each time. But eventually, Matilde changed her mind—and was happy she did. She told young parents, "The time you spend here playing with your children is the time you'll remember for the rest of your life."

As soon as Mayor Varela cut the ribbon, the mariachis burst into song. That's when the celebration at Pine Avenue really began—and it continues today.