Each year, I look forward to the IPL Mayor’s Lunch for Parks in support of the Indianapolis Parks Foundation. This year was no exception, and after 17 years of #parksfunlunches and nearly 30 years in service to our community, they’ve raised over $80 million dollars in support of Indianapolis parks! And while they really pull out the stops for this event, we know their impact goes far, far beyond being able to program an outstanding afternoon, evidenced by that fore-mentioned figure.
As soon as we walked in, people were painting a mural in conjunction with Big Car that will hang at the Parks Foundation’s new headquarters, located along the White River in the old Riverside Marina Restaurant. Around the ballroom, there was playground equipment, animals, and activations from featured partners who provide programming in our city’s parks year-round.
Other interactive elements during lunch included parks partners like Song Squad and Indianapolis Shakespeare Company (Indy Shakes). But when it comes down to it, the presenters spoke volumes about the importance of parks in our communities and city as a whole.
We heard from Indianapolis Parks Foundation staff members Lori Hazlett and Jenny Cash on their new vision and strategic plan, along with several other community members providing updates on projects or fun tidbits about our Indianapolis parks.
Did you know that during the most recent polar vortex, some of our Indy Parks were open and served as emergency weather shelters? Or that each year, they serve over 400,000 meals to youth? How about the fact that at 953 acres, Riverside Park is larger than Central Park in New York City? In 2019, the Indianapolis City-County Council voted to increase the Parks budget, which will allow provide salary increases to the incredible staff that supports our parks.
“When we support our parks, we support our neighborhoods. When we support our neighborhoods, we support the whole of Indianapolis.”-Mayor Hogsett
There is no reason why Riverside Park, Tarkington Park, Brookside Park or any other of the 211 Indy Parks can’t be among some of the incredible destination parks across the nation not unlike Washington Park in Cincinnati, OH or Forest Park in St. Louis, MO or Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, TX.
Earlier this year, the Lilly Endowment awarded 9.2 million dollars for the Taggart Memorial Mainstage Amphitheatre. This will restore the Taggart Memorial and utilize it as a backdrop for a multipurpose outdoor amphitheater hosting concerts, movies, and cultural performances throughout the year in conjunction with Indy Parks and partners like the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company and others.
Other notable items:
- The Colts Canal Playscape opened last year and fills the much-needed void of a downtown playground.
- They’re working on updating Broad Ripple Park by way of a new family center.
- And Indy Urban Acres continues to do amazing work by providing equitable access to free produce and education to families in need.
I would be remiss to not mention a hearty congratulations to our 1828 Project graduate David O’Rourke, who proposed to his fiancé Ashley during lunch. David serves on our IndyVolved committee and we are so happy for them both!
Laura Granieri is the Director of Communications at IndyHub. She’s always on the lookout for the next social media trend or a unique No Mean City story. In her spare time, you can find her supporting awesome Indy organizations and riding her bike around downtown. @lauraklaurak