January 2004–What is the wonder behind Meyer Park? There has to be something special about this place where many are lured to spend their precious time. People choose Meyer over other parks because of its vast size, beauty, and convenient location. It is not one, but many factors that contribute to the park being successful in completing its purpose for pleasing people.
Meyer Park is home , who runs the many soccer fields at Meyer. They take very good care of their fields and ensure their perfection. To avoid muddy fields and players kicking off chunks of grass, Meyer shuts down the fields any time it rains harder than a sprinkle. While this can be a bit irritating, most people appreciate having nice fields to play on.
When I first started playing soccer, I played for a recreational team that was a part of Klein Soccer Club. My team, like others, was a co-ed herd of five-year-olds that had to get dressed in itchy gold and black uniforms every Saturday to swarm around a soccer ball for an hour. It was the highlight of every Saturday for reasons like getting praise from your parents for a game well played, enjoying the half-time and after game snacks, and running through the tunnel of parents after the game.
Nothing has changed, as you can still see young ones get red in the face as they struggle through their games. As for the older teams, they turn the game of soccer into something more serious, yet more exciting too. I sit and watch select teams battle each other with aggressiveness and skill. One girl slides cleat first to gain possession of the ball from her opponent, leaving a strawberry on the back of her thigh. This doesn’t distract her because her mission was accomplished and her team now owns the ball.
Supportive parents on the sidelines cheer for their team at active moments, sit tensely in unsure moments, and chat about any and everything in the moments between. Listening, I can hear one mother talk endlessly to another about the great deals she got at Ross. Her monologue was broken only by shouts of “Way to go Kristi” or “Pass the ball!” Some of the more laid back parents just sit in their fold up chairs and observe the game while commenting to themselves on how well a player is performing that day.
During half-time, each team sits in its own huddle and receives the advice and/or chastising of the coach and the trainer. Smaller siblings beg their parents to get them some candy from the concession stands until their parents give in and buy the Twix that falls short of expectations by melting all over their hands. The second half begins quickly as the teams fight for a fast goal. They run themselves ragged, scrapping to finish the game.
The final whistle blows and the tension from the close game is relieved. Players exchange handshakes and a quick “good game”. The players sit and remove their shin guards and cleats as their coach offers one last word on the game. With the final announcements out of the way the team is free to go until the next practice where they will work on all the mistakes of today’s game. As they haul their bags to their cars, their parents talk to them about certain incidents in the game that they liked or disliked.
Although soccer is a major part of Meyer Park, it isn’t everything that Meyer has to offer, which you can see by moving around the park.
A trip to the playground reveals a joyous scene. A giggling little girl dressed in pink overalls runs up a slide, while another child on a sugar-high chirps to her brother through the plastic megaphone attached to the playground. The scene of children playing, enjoying their youth, brings a smile to my face as I remember the days when I could swing for hours or build shapeless sandcastles out of pebbles with the occasional shards of wood. Meyer Park accommodates most everyone, including parents and their children. The extensive playground Meyer offers is broken up into three sections, each for children with a different level of physicality. The first section is for the tots who haven’t yet acquired the skills to climb high ladders or hang from monkey bars. Here you can see a mother clenching the tiny hands of her eight-month-old daughter while she helps her waddle down the path to a rocking duck. The mother places her baby on the duck and allows it to spring forward and backward while her protective hand rests on the baby’s back. The slides in this section of the playground are elongated and the tops are closer to the ground than the other slides. This allows for a shorter, slower ride for the oblivious baby who is pushed down by his mother to greet his father.
The next level in the set of playgrounds involves an overall rising of the activity set. This allows for steeper slides and a heightened sense of danger, which is a natural lure for adventurous kids. This part of the playground is the choice of larger, more active children who are typically more prone to fighting. Parents lounge on the benches circling the playground, watching their children to ensure their good behavior. Some of the children get excited as they graduate to backless swings. They kick their legs back and forth to go as high as they can with the goal of swinging over the top of the swing set.
The last section in the playgrounds is built higher than the other two, but it doesn’t have the same expansion as the others. At this playground kids can spiral down an enclosed slide or play tick-tack-toe on a platform five feet in the air. Older children that dare to climb the iron bars to a dizzying height choose this playground. Having limited space and no bridges to run on contribute to the fact that this is the least populated playground of the three. All of the sections of the playground are close enough to each other for kids to simply move from one to another as they please.
Near the playground there are brightly colored balloons attached to picnic tables with red and white-checkered tablecloths. The balloons identify the location of a young girl’s birthday party where partygoers will enjoy hot dogs, cookie cake, and volleyball. It is apparent that the parents of the girl have made good on Meyer Park’s offerings and found a truly economical way to have a great time.
There are multiple places around the park that are perfect for parties. On the North side of the park there is a large, wooden gazebo that people just love to sit and chat in. For the larger parties, there is a covered patio with many picnic tables for convenient seating. This patio has a brick bar where the food or presents can be laid. There are barbecue pits within feet of the patio to solve the problem of cooking for many guests. Restrooms, as always, are close by and easily accessible. That makes it easier for people to enjoy themselves without worrying about looking for a restroom.
As I move along I rest on a bench facing the calm pond, and I envision being alone with nature. Accompanied only by the ducks gracefully skimming the water, I enjoy the solitude as I close my eyes and feel the cool breeze on my face. The scent of the coming rain lingers and the towering trees expand their branches out over the pond, swaying with the wind. I wait to embrace the cold droplets that will fall and immerse me totally in nature. My dream comes to a halt when a pair of children decides to chase the pigeons and geese into the water, starting a chaotic mixture of yelling, honking, and flapping wings.
The pond is an attraction for many who want to either feed the animals or just enjoy the scenery. Trails that circle the pond enable people to get a view of the pond from all sides. If people on one side make a lot of commotion to make the animals move, people on the other side can see these animals that sought refuge. A turtle the size of a grapefruit hides under a tree root at the edge of the water until it sees a quickly moving child advance toward it. The turtle glides deeper into the water until it is beyond the light’s reach. A couple sits on a bench on the far side of the pond, holding each other’s hands and gaze deep into each other’s eyes. The pond offers a romantic setting for couples who just want to be with each other. They can walk around the pond or deeper into the wooded area on the dirt paths and talk about whatever they feel like without fear of interruption. The pond acts as just another one of many commodities at Meyer Park.
To answer the question on what is so alluring about Meyer Park, one has to experience the park. A visit to Meyer would let one feel the park, see the many happy people, and utilize some of many of the different kinds of equipment that Meyer offers. To best experience Meyer park, you have to walk all of the trails, feed the geese at the pond, roller blade on the concrete paths, enjoy a game of soccer, take the kids to the playground, and conduct a party at the gazebo. After all of this, there is still more that you can do to enjoy Meyer Park.