Written By Mary Pence
OAKHURST – Once upon a time, in the early 1980’s, a small group of Oakhurst residents banded together to create a local park similar to those they each fondly remembered from their youth.
It would be a place with swings and slides; a place with picnic tables and grills for hot dogs and hamburgers; a place with green grass that stretched far enough to run and catch a ball, turn cartwheels and somersaults until we collapsed, and send our dogs bounding joyfully after a far-flung Frisbee.
It would be a place to spread a blanket, lie on our backs to search for the earthly things formed by passing clouds in the sky, play in the sunshine and laugh with family and friends. It would be all that.Many towns have such a place. Usually they come by such a place because it’s a function of city taxes or recreational districts. We didn’t have either of those resources – never have and still don’t. If Oakhurst were to have a park, we would have to build it ourselves. And, so, we have. This is the park that Oakhurst built. This is the park that we’ve all created.
How the park came to be is really just a footnote. Three people should be named: David Linn, who created the vision and holds it, still; Harry Baker Jr., who generously offered a handsome wedge of undeveloped prime land in the middle of town; and Al Lewis, who has wooed several-hundred-thousand dollars from our pockets over the years. They are at the helm of the park’s beginning and without their initial drive and enduring commitment, we would yet to have a park.
If it were not for the members of local service organizations who brought hammers and donuts and coffee to the site and donated Saturdays and Sundays, we would not yet have a bridge that could get us from here to there.
Someone envisioned a graceful gazebo as a focal point, and gathered a team of local builders who volunteered to make it so.
When we needed water, someone made it so. We seeded and planted, watered and weeded, and a dream took root. We can be proud of each other, be proud of ourselves; our park is a testament to our community’s heart and spirit.
It is, however, the Elegant Auction that created the money to begin the development of our park, and it is still what keeps the park that Oakhurst built going and growing. And the Elegant Auction is nothing without you.
It is you in the business community contributing goods and services; it is you as an individual getting involved and donating your talents and work; it is you who make the Elegant Auction what it is. It is you who give so that the park may thrive.
And, we know who you are. You are the ones with festive blue ribbons tacked on your signs and taped in your windows. Don’t think we don’t notice. We do. And, we thank you.
And even with all that, if it were not for everyone who attends the annual event and pulls out a wallet, a checkbook or a credit card, we would yet to have a park.
Our park needs us; our park needs you. Our park is a project that will never be completed or fully-funded. We can’t pat each other on the back, check it off our list, and walk away. Our park requires our diligence and our dollars year in and year out. There is no ending to this commitment, no ending to this story.
There’s only a wedge of land, once silent and idle, that has been transformed. Today, green grasses, rainbow-colored flowers, and trees that rustle in the wind grow there. Children’s laughter is in the air. This is the park that Oakhurst built; it’s our jewel, our community’s miracle; it’s a dream come true.
For family, for friends, for the future…. Happily Ever After.