Carol Ferrara, 75, says the new park is already proving to be a magnet for residents of all ages. She has joined a walking group that meets in the park every week. Her 6-year-old granddaughter, Eliza, spent long, happy days in the splashpad this summer and now climbs inside a dome-shaped play structure. And Ferrara spies teenage boys whom she once babysat running full throttle on the basketball courts.
One afternoon after school, she and her husband watched as Eliza played amid dozens of middle school students who were cavorting on a piece of play equipment that resembles a merry-go-round. “My granddaughter kept going to it and those kids were so good to her and so careful with her,” Ferrara says. “It was a neat experience.”
A young visitor to Panorama Park explores a colorful mosaic reflecting community values. Photo: Olivedia Productions
Previously, she avoided the park. “There was broken play equipment, along with drug activity and even people having sex in the open,” she recalled. “I didn’t let Eliza go. It was hard because it was the closest park to us. Now it’s so green and we just go.”
At the reopening on August 20, representatives of community groups, elected officials, and—of course—residents turned out to celebrate the vibrant new green space. Among them was Ashley Cornelius, the Pikes Peak poet laureate, who wrote a poem for the occasion.
Against a soundscape of squealing children, Cornelius reflected on the resilience of the community and the promise of the park. “Meet me in the place where we gather in love and light, a once-desolate land now reinvigorated by the passion of the people,” she read. “We did not fix a community, nor give it something it never had. We shined a light on the hearts of the southeast of Colorado Springs.”
Then she exhorted those in attendance to reap all the benefits of their new park. “This is collective work, but we are not finished,” Cornelius went on. “We need you to play. Use imagination on open field and jungle gyms. Pick up basketball games and leave everything on the courts. Experience joy with abandon . . . Exercise and move your body . . . Find yourself in the shade next to loved ones. Create poetic magic in the presence of nature. Fantasize about ideas that will change the world. Explore here. Play here. Heal here.”
We certainly couldn’t have said it better.
Lisa W. Foderaro is a senior writer and researcher for Trust for Public Land. Previously, she was a reporter for the New York Times, where she covered parks and the environment.