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Monday, June 23, 2014

Benson Garden Walk: On Common Ground to Benefit Omaha Parks Foundation

In the 21st century, a top way to spend a fair weather day is to a visit to a city park. In the playgrounds found in my mind, I recollect about fun outings at parks during my youth. Fun was had on simple playground equipment including slides, swings, and teeter-totters. I also enjoyed playing a few times on more extravagant equipment such as a multi-story rocket ship for children to climb to the top. Another destination had a playground connected with bridges. I recall the thrill of my first time down a tornado slide.

Efforts to raise money for playground equipment for parks in the Benson area are in full force. The Benson Neighborhood Association and area businesses have rallied behind this cause and have been organizing fund-raisers.

Save the date Saturday, June 28th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Benson Garden Walk: On Common Ground. Proceeds will go to the Omaha Parks Foundation for playground renovations that include two parks in the Benson area. Tickets are currently available at some business in the Benson area including Jane’s Health Market, Omaha Bicycle Company, and Benson Plant Rescue. You can also purchase tickets the day of the event at the Benson Community Garden and at each of the gardens on the tour. There are activities taking place during this event to promote the communities common ground of making healthy and sustainable activities apart of everyday living. Sustainable living is encouraged with activities for storm water management for gardening and a build-a-rain barrel workshop. There will also be fresh produce to encourage healthy living at the Benson Farmers Market. For updates, visit the Benson Garden Walk official Facebook page too.

During past Benson Garden Walks, I was impressed that people were so gracious to invite the ticket holders to tour their gardens. I recall one home thick with daisies, a favorite of Becky Brown and also a great local choice for being drought resistant. There will be tours of multiple sites. During the stop at the Benson Branch Library, attendees will view the Common Soil Seed Library. I think that it is also fitting that the Benson Community Garden, the Benson East Gateway’s bio-retention garden, and the Benson Farmer’s Market are participating. 7 residential gardens are on the tour. To add to the festivities, there will be artists and musicians. Yes, Benson knows how to do it right!

One of the parks in the Benson area to receive funds is the Grace Young Park. My family went to other small and large parks in the Benson area so I am not personally aware of this park. It is 2.4 acres and must be a vital gathering place for the neighborhood.

Benson Park is also slated to receive funds for playground equipment. Saying that this 217.3 acre park is important part of my family and community is an understatement. The last large gathering with all of the grandchildren and children present before my maternal grandmother passed away took place at Benson Park. As a youth, my mom and siblings would go to skate on the frozen pond. To celebrate graduating from Benson High School, my mom and about a half dozen students split the costs to rent the pavilion at the park for a chaperoned party.

The tradition of Field Day at Marian High School during the years that I attended in the late 1980’s included a trek to Benson Park. Although I was painfully shy at this stage of my life, I relished sitting in a row on the hill and cheering with my classmates to demonstrate our class spirit as we computed against the other grades in nearby rows. There were field events with such traditional activities as the tug of war. Each class also took their turn on the lower ground to present a themed show with songs. One of my favorite years at the park was when we were “Junior Junction.” As we were dressed like a long train, we did “the wave.”

When I was in grade school, the Softball Diamonds hosted the College World Series for Softball for the women. It was so fun to cheer for the amazing athletes. As the players were very approachable, I sought autographs from as many players on different teams that I could find to sign the program. Later, Becky Bohan Brown and I would play at the same fields when we were on class A fast-pitch teams through the Omaha Softball Association (OSA). Due to our age difference, we were on different teams. Although I am not highly competitive, I enjoyed pitching. I also loved the camaraderie of the dugouts where we would cheer and sometimes chant little songs. The baseball diamond was available for a lot of my team practices.

The park has hosted large community gathering through the years such as the 125th celebration of Benson area. It is the place for the “Cops and Bobbers” event where Omaha Police Officers and volunteers assist area youth as they fish in the lagoon. I do not recall there being ducks at the lagoon when I was a child although we frequented another Benson area park with ducks. I was happy to learn that ducks are now at the lagoon.

When $50,000 is raised by the community for the playground equipment, the city of Omaha, NE will match the other $50,000 for the park. You may donate directly to Omaha Parks Foundation, a 501 (C) 3 non-profit.

Years ago, a professor had us muse about designing a playground for the child development class. I envy the people who design the playground equipment for the respective parks. In subsequent years, I have learned how very important play and movement are for healthy development. But when you are a child, you are just out to have a good time. Oh, the possibilities for good wholesome fun to come when the new playground equipment arrives. It is a great opportunity to be part of something that will have such wonderful and tangible results!

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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