The Valpo Parks Foundation hosted an all-ages party for the community to show off the new upgrades to Tower Park. Among the most anticipated additions was Samardzija Field which was unveiled a week ago.
The Party in the Park was an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy the new facility. One event, the Home Run Derby, was won by Todd Evans who knocked two out of the park in the third round to take home the prize.
Valparaiso High School Varsity Boys Basketball Coach Barak Coolman and his wife Val made a family rivalry out of the community “all-star” mushball game. Coach Coolman’s Young Bucks beat out the Legends in three innings of comically-called softball game.
“A lot of the people who are celebrating with us played here as kids,” said John Seibert, Director of Parks and Executive Director of the Foundation. “They want to have these kinds of facilities that are just as good or even better [than what they had growing up] for the future generation. That’s what’s happening here. People are stepping up and making it even better than it’s ever been.”
Iris Gustafson, Valpo born and raised, grew up about three blocks from Tower Park. She was invited to the party by a friend.
“I was really excited to be invited because I really wanted to see what it’s become,” she said.
Gustafson was not the only one present who could recall fond childhood memories of the park. While the field was designed with the kids in mind, it is just as special to the adults who grew up around Tower Park.
Tim and Gretchen VerSchure of Valpo have three young kids that enjoy the parks and participate in a lot of the park programs. They want to see great facilities for their kids and their kids’ friends for years to come.
“You look at these facilities and it’s a fun party, but the real magic happens when there’s a ton of kids on these fields and playgrounds,” VerSchure said, “It’s a nice representation of a community that can come together to pull off something really special.”
“Parks can be very visible symbols, but it also reflects the wonderful things that happen in our community,” Seibert said. “[This event] is not patting ourselves on the back. It’s saying, ‘This is what we do for each other. We care about each other.’”
If you would like to help preserve the legacy of great parks in Valpo, visit http://www.valpoparksfoundation.org