The health of a city neighborhood can be evaluated in many different ways. How well we maintain, respect, and use our public parks is chief among them. It’s telling, then, that one of this community’s finest jewels – Dorchester Park – will be the focus of a weekend-long celebration this month that will highlight the importance of this place in our collective lives.
Next Friday, Sept. 9, hundreds are expected to attend a 125th anniversary gala under an elegantly lighted-tent set up at the park’s upper ball field— or “the diamond,” as Lower Mills folks have long called it. The evening will feature cocktails, small plates, music, dancing, and a lively auction with travel destinations like Ireland and Costa Rica on the block.
The funds raised that evening will help the Dorchester Park Association (DPA) continue to program events throughout the year that will keep the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park a vibrant and healthy place.
“In 1891, Dorchester received a gift,” says DPA chair Richard O’Mara, the owner of Cedar Grove Gardens who has been the driving figure in the movement to raise funds for the park’s future. “In 2016 it remains a treasured community asset, a place to congregate and contemplate.”
The funds help defray the costs of annual events, like the Classic Car Show and Family Fun Day that will be held on Sun., Sept. 11. The event will include scores of classic automobiles, horse-drawn carriage rides, food trucks, games, and arts and crafts activities for children. Registration is free for owners who are showing their classic cars – the brainchild of Meetinghouse Bank’s civically engaged president, Tony Paciulli, who has, like O’Mara, emerged as one of the great stewards of the park. Together, they’ve encouraged other stakeholders to become active sponsors of the gala and the association.
The Reporter is pleased to serve as the media sponsor for both the gala and the car show and family day.
As the DPA noted in a press release last week, Dorchester Park is a place where our neighborhood’s past and present co-exist in wondrous ways. Its native forest is punctuated with large outcroppings of Puddingstone that are natural playgrounds for young and old. Modern recreational amenities – including two ball fields, tennis courts and a playground near Dorchester Avenue – are busy throughout the year, including wintertime, when the park’s gentle slopes are perfect for younger kids and their sleds and inner tubes.
“We have had similar events in years past, but our goal this year is to welcome and introduce as many Dorchester residents to the wonders of the Park with a more casual event at a lower price point, while raising enough funds to continue our important work of retaining and revitalizing Dorchester Park for our community,” O’Mara explained in a statement noting that the association has set its overall goal to leave Dorchester Park with the same footprint and design for the citizens of Dorchester in the year 2091, its two hundredth birthday.
There is something special about a community that embraces its park— and its people – with a vision that extends well past our living years.
Support for the gala is still very much encouraged, both in the form of ticket sales to the gala and sponsorships from civic-minded companies and individuals. The gala begins with cocktails at 7 p.m. Tickets are $90 each, two for $175. Parking will be provided compliments of Carney Hospital. You can purchase your tickets online at dotpark.org.
– Bill Forry