Oak Lawn officially reopens improved Memorial Park
By Ginger Brashinger Correspondent July 25, 2014 7:36PM
Two sections of the popular rocket ship slide were boarded up at both ends during Wednesday's reopening ceremony at the renovated Memorial Park. The sections were closed due to potential danger from a manufacturer's defect that originally was thought to be vandalism, park district director Maddie Kelly said. She said the district is awaiting replacement parts to repair the slides. | Ginger Brashinger/Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 28, 2014 6:26AM
The reopening ceremony for Oak Lawn’s renovated Memorial Park this past week brought out dozens of families to celebrate the park’s new features, designed to offer something for all ages.
Mayor Sandra Bury said the Oak Lawn Park District and director Maddie Kelly had done an “incredible job” in upgrading and renovating the park, 102nd Street and Major Avenue.
“Maddie was right when she said park districts should reinvent themselves,” Bury said. “There’s something for everyone. It is a jewel.”
Kelly said the park district wanted the park to offer activities to attract people of all ages, including basketball and tennis courts, a walking path with exercise equipment, a pavilion, a fishing pond where “seniors can fish with their grandchildren” and the popular splash pad.
“The goal was to get all ages interacting and recreating with one another,” she said. “It’s exceeded our expectations.”
Although participation in the popular water feature was a casualty of Wednesday’s cool weather and brisk breezes, Kelly said that wasn’t the norm.
“There were literally hundreds of people here (Tuesday),” she said.
Wednesday’s celebration offered other family-friendly enticements, including free refreshments, a judo presentation by park program students and a visit from the Rec-Mobile program, a free traveling recreation program for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The park also is known as Rocket Ship Park for the giant, space-themed climbing apparatus and multiple slides that mostly were open for business during the reopening event, drawing dozens among the younger set.
Kelly said earlier fears that a slide was vandalized proved to be a manufacturer’s defect that would be repaired when replacement pieces arrive. In the meantime, that section of the slide is inaccessible.
Oak Lawn resident Pat Galbraith watched as her great-grandson, Jaydon Ciciora, 5, also of Oak Lawn, played in the splash pad, seemingly oblivious to the cool temperatures.
Galbraith, a grandmother of 22 and great-grandmother of 12, said she chose her condominium across from Memorial Park 12 years ago because the “beautiful pool was part of the attraction.” She said although she hated to see the pool go in the renovation project, she welcomed the splash pad.
“I’m so happy this is here,” Galbraith said.
Kelly said she thinks the splash pad will prove to be the better-used water attraction over time.
“The beauty of the splash pad is that we can keep it open longer than a pool because we don’t need lifeguards,” she said.
Kelly said the pool had to close when the lifeguards returned to school, often as early as mid-August. She said the park district plans to keep the splash pad open much longer.
“As long as weather permits, we’ll keep it open,” she said.