The Kid’s View Of Owensboro River Park

Hide the women and childrens! The park is finished. Man, what an impressive space – for kids too, but for the grownups as well. I could not help but admire it all.

From a landscaper and planner’s perspective this entire edifice, from the fountains to the sinewy, beckoning and welcoming walking surfaces to the exceptionally riveting playground, this extremely cool park hits no false notes.

The scary, looming trees hold animals doing animal stuff – a squirrel eating an acorn, (are those good?) a Cardinal scouring his surroundings, various bugs, caterpillars,  ‘varmits’ and creatures all belonging with those who play in this delightful large playground.

The proof of the success of this mighty sweaty adventure land was recently proven by a small family who visited my book subject, Jack Hicks recently. Jack’s old friends from Hawesville were packing their grand children, two girls aged 4 and 2, on their Owensboro adventure and decided to stop into the park on their way over to Jack’s house. They were quite taken with the place – so much so that, after two hours, they rounded them up for the trip to Jack’s.

It brought tears.

This pair was enjoying themselves in spades. With promises of a return after their visit to see Jack and drop off all their absolutely crazy good food – a yearly ritual of this family’s – the girls relented, reluctantly.

Which was great because they had a fabulous visit with Jack, as always. On their way out, Jack said you could see their eyes light up at the mention of getting back down to the park. Hilariously, Jack said they called him a few hours later, finally leaving the park again for the trek home.

He said “You could hear the girls crying in the background again!”  Ha ha, this park is too darn good!

The red and brown walking/running surfaces are especially spongy and soft. They are a supremely comfy walk as grown up shoes sink in a good inch or more, like walking on a bed. Obvious safety features abound, for once not deterring from the ambiance or atmosphere whatsoever – in fact, integral with it all. It is supremely well-devised and I say this as a contractor who has installed many very similar structures – though not to this scale. There is also a gorgeous little more open area of water jets, supplying heat relief in Summer in yet another fun atmosphere.

The big old artificial trees which caused local consternation over their cost may indeed have been pricey but their reward is truly great. They dominate the scene, offering this organic massiveness and rather stable presence, anchoring all the structures which pass around and through them. They add a complete whimsical truth to it all, appealing to kids in ways which I suspect we can only guess. The incredible detail of the bark and their color is fascinating in its craftsmanship. They are consistent over every inch of their enormous presence, a perfection which no one can miss, up close.


Just delightful.

The view from either side of the kid’s playground is satisfying to adults in ways which require no especial effort. This park pleases the eye from a remarkable number of perspectives.

The Town Christmas Tree above looms over architecturally-fascinating structures all over the place. As does this view below of the new building project on the site of the old Executive Inn, with now-quiet fountains, resplendent in their stone veneers.

.Pretty gorgeous stuff altogether. Low key, modern, super clean with intricate, complex  and flowing walking surfaces everywhere.

 One tends to even forget there is a mile wide river this entire thing borders on.

The World Bluegrass Hall Of Fame sits next door, inside the gorgeous new performance center where world class acts perform regularly. It shares design themes – especially the walkways – with our park here, making everything extend and tie together incredibly well.

Another year of plant growth will revolutionize the current look. 2-5 more years and it will be essentially unrecognizable from its current look. I’m going to enjoy watching very much.

I’ll definitely want to come back – I always do – But I won’t cry when I leave.

I’m a grown up, dangit!

4 thoughts on “The Kid’s View Of Owensboro River Park

  1. It was great to read your blog! If you allow me to introduce myself, my name is Paul Kissinger, and I was the Principal-in-Charge of the Smothers’s Park project. I lead a team of talented designers and landscape architects since we began the project, which started as a Riverfront Master Plan nearly 11years ago. The City stayed the course and implemented a series of strategic projects along the river, so they could get the Smothers Park project complete.

    Your blog was great, and while their were tears brought to the kid’s eyes, I was glad to hear it was because they were having so much fun and did not want to leave.

    All the best,
    Paul Kissinger, FASLA, PLA
    Principal / Chief Operating Officer
    EDSA

  2. What a delight to read, Paul, and thank you. Needless to say, those girls’ tears were good things, if such a thing can be said. You obviously made the park into a destination kids will take home with them forever fondly. Kudo’s from this old landscaper and designer on what you accomplished. It’s magnificent.

  3. My grandkids hate to leave too. I always have to promise they’ll get to come again next time they are here to visit. I admit being one of the cynics, especially about the Spooky Old Trees, but I love the place too. Very proud of it being right where it is, in Owensboro.

  4. WOW, those Artificial trees are awesome. So realistic! What do you think they made them out of? I would imagine they wouldn’t have been cheap either :-) I can just imagine my 3 year old quivering with anticipation on viewing this playground the first time. Thanks for sharing!

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