SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and the city’s Parks and Recreation director, Patrick Sullivan, have announced a series of special events to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Springfield Parks Department.

Founded in 1883, the Springfield Parks Department has grown to include over 3,000 acres of open space and over 50 neighborhood parks located throughout the city.

The opening night event to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Department and 125th anniversary of the Springfield Forestry Division will be “A Night Under the Stars,” with the unveiling of the Theodore Geisel bronze sculpture honoring the longest-serving Forest Park superintendent, and father of Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.

Other family-friendly events planned are free carousel rides in Forest Park, free admission for children to Forest Park Zoo, and a variety of performances including a magic show.

The festivities kick off on Thursday, October 12th, and continue through Saturday, October 14th. More information on anniversary events can be found on the city’s website.

Thursday, October 12th

  • A Night Under the Stars with the unveiling of the Theodore Geisel Bas Relief honoring the longest serving park superintendent and his son, Theodore K. Geisel, aka Dr Seuss.  4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. 
  • Concert by Dee Reilly from 6 pm — 8 pm under the event tent.

Friday, October 13th

  • Senior Luncheon with lawn bowling and bocce lessons.
    • Seniors will be treated to a free lunch while enjoying a live performance by the Floyd Patterson’s Hipptown Band.  12:00 pm to 2:00 pm
    • Lawn bowling and Bocce lessons:  10:00 am to 2:00 pm
    • Contact the Raymond Jordan Senior Center to reserve your spot:  (413) 787-6785

Saturday, October 14th

  • Open house and tours of the Carriage House at the Barney Estate in Forest Park, the new Edward P. Casey Forestry Operations Center, the Clifford Phaneuf Education Center (ECOS), and the Monkey House.
    • Carriage House – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
    • Monkey House – 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    • Edward P. Casey Forestry Operations Center – 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
    • ECOS – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
  • Bocce Lessons:  12:00 pm to 2:00 pm
  • Dean Davids Magician
    • Session 1:  12:00 pm
    • Session 2:  1:00 pm
  • The Happy Face Painter
    • 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm
  • Springfield Fire Department and Dispatch
    • Fire Truck Display – 1:00 to 2:00 pm
  • Forest Park Zoon
    • Free admission for kids 12 and under
    • Session 1:  12:00 pm
    • Session 2: 2:00 pm
  • 125 Years of City Forestry with Forester Alex Sherman at Edward P. Casey Forestry Operations Center
    • 2:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Mayor Sarno stated, “The City of Springfield is unique in that every neighborhood has a park and every resident has the opportunity to enjoy the 735 acres of our beautiful crown jewel, Forest Park.  Growing up, my Riviera was Forest Park and Emerson Wight Park.  The founders of the park system had a dream for the future and we are living that dream with 3,000 acres of open space.  My administration is proud to announce that we have surpassed the $100 million mark in investment of our park system over the past 12 years. Parks are a vital part of our city and an integral part of our neighborhood communities.  These parks and the various amenities and recreation opportunities that they offer, are available for our residents throughout the different seasons and brings an important outlet for families, while helping to enhance our overall quality of life.  I encourage everyone to continue to enjoy their parks in the next few weeks and hope to see you at Forest Park for the Anniversary Celebration.”

PBRM Executive Director Patrick Sullivan said, “The effective collaboration between state, federal and city agencies has brought great success to our park system.  Mayor Sarno has been a champion for Springfield Parks and I could not be happier that the last grant we received this past week brought us to the $100 million mark in the Mayor’s investments into our park system. Parks are an important element for every neighborhood. They provide a respite from city life and offer an essential outlet for passive and active recreation.  I am extremely proud of the men and women who work for this department as it is their diligence and passion that create enjoyable and attractive parks.”

Park Commission Chairperson Jennifer McQuade added, “These are wonderful events to celebrate our park system’s anniversary.  We should all take great pride in the picturesque open spaces and various recreational opportunities that are available throughout our park system. We look forward to welcoming our city residents to Forest Park in celebrating 140 years of Parks and 125 years of Forestry.”

City Forester Alex Sherman said, “We are proud to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Springfield Forestry Division.  Founded in 1898, the Forestry Division has cared for Springfield’s trees and is responsible for the many tree-lined streets we enjoy today.  Rooted in this history, the Division continues to apply the latest knowledge and technology to protect, maintain, and grow a safe and productive Urban Forest for current and future generations of Springfield residents.  It is rewarding to work for a Mayor and a Director of Parks who ensure that we have the resources to guarantee the safety of the men and women who work for Forestry.”

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