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VOL. 130 | NO. 106 | Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Overton Park to Celebrate Itself With ‘Merrymaking’

By Don Wade

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Since its inception late in 2011, the Overton Park Conservancy has been in motion: removing the invasive and harmful vegetation in old-growth forest, finishing out the dog park, renovating a jogging trail, and completing Rainbow Lake Playground, among other projects.

Overton Park Conservancy will host its third annual A Day of Merrymaking Saturday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entertainment will include tethered hot-air balloon rides, live music and a dog agility course.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

So with that much work going on, a little partying is in order. This Saturday, June 6, Overton Park Conservancy will host its third annual family festival, A Day of Merrymaking.

“It’s truly a celebration of Overton Park,” said conservancy executive director Tina Sullivan. “While the beauty of the park is important, it’s also the people that come in that make it what it is.”

Tethered hot-air balloon floats, live music, a dog agility course, a children’s area with bouncy castles, games and face-paintings, arts and crafts and food trucks and local vendors highlight the entertainment lineup. A complete event schedule can be found at www.overtonpark.org/merrymaking.

The first two festivals each drew more than 2,000 people, Sullivan said, and she is expecting a bigger turnout this year.

Overton Park is popular with Midtown residents, but Sullivan is convinced they draw from a much larger area because too often people visiting the park have said they were unaware of the work that has been going on in recent years or even that the conservancy manages it. That, Sullivan believes, is proof that those people are not local.

Four-year-old Maisy Miller gets her face painted by artist Amy Stone at a Day of Merrymaking in Overton Park.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

“We certainly consider ourselves a regional asset and not just a neighborhood park,” Sullivan said, adding that visitors have many options with the nearby Memphis Zoo, Levitt Shell and Brooks Museum of Art.

Sullivan says the park long has been a popular place for church groups and family reunions. And the 1.3-acre enclosed dog park, which was completed in June 2012, only enhanced Overton Park’s attraction, she said.

Likewise, the renovation of Rainbow Lake Playground, finished in June 2013, has added to the park’s appeal. The installation of a new bike and pedestrian entrance plaza and sculpture on East Parkway was finished in April 2014.

Way-finding signage will be added this summer and further improvements to park entrances to make them more welcoming are expected to be completed next year.

Sullivan said they also hope to make the Old Forest more of destination for visitors, and said the conservancy is “highlighting the Old Forest in a lot of our work this year.”

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