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Swimming, Hiking and Necking | Events

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Swimming, Hiking and Necking
Events, News
Swimming, Hiking and Necking

By Audria Larsen

Parks and green spaces are lovely, often densely foliated spots that serve social purposes. While not originally intended for necking or the side activities stereotypically associated with disc golfing, parks are fantastic places for surreptitious pleasures as well as wholesome family fun. Often taken for granted, the city of Grand Rapids has been diligently acquiring and preserving these public spaces since the 1800s.

Since April, the Grand Rapids Public Library's main branch has featured an exhibit detailing the history of the parks of Grand Rapids and surrounding areas, which will be on display through October.

"[It's] an overview of the history of the parks," said Tim Gleisner, manager of Local History and Special Collections. "[Hopefully, visitors can] come away with an appreciation of the efforts of the past [and] preserve the green space within our community."

Generally, most citizens experience local parks as places that have always been and will always continue to be. However, the exhibit not only details the shifts and dramatic changes these spaces have undergone over the years, but is also a call to action, reminding us that, as Gleisner said, "once you don't have it, there is no way to bring it back."

John Ball Park is one of the most iconic parks in Grand Rapids that has also undergone a variety of transitions.

"It was originally part of the city park system," Gleisner said. "The park that we know today is very diminished from what it was. Much of that changed due to a highway system."

John and Mary Ball donated the initial 40 acres of land in 1869. It boasted the earliest swimming pool, duck pond and dance pavilion and in 1891, the John Ball Zoo was founded. But the park has gone through changes that even a younger generation...


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