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Stanley Park of Westfield: Everyone's Private Park

By David Boegaard

A private park started to give respite to workers, Stanley Park is open to the public - and it has something for everyone. A bounty of trails through glorious nature and manicured gardens. A center for local concerts and events. A place for community sports. A perfect spot to spend an afternoon with your family. Stanley Park is many things to many people. But it is always beautiful and welcoming.

Stanley Park was founded by Frank Stanley Beveridge in 1949. Beveridge was the founder of the Stanley Home Products company, and after his great commercial success he decided to engage in philanthropy. In the spirit of Henry Ford, Beveridge created the private Stanley Park especially to provide a "a place where employees and families could enjoy the serenity of nature," says Bob McKean, Director of Stanley Park. Each year, that initial purpose is honored with the Stanley Home Products Reunion Picnic. The Picnic, says McKean, "brings together retirees and their families, former associates and those who have ties to Stanley Home Products."

Today, while Stanley Park is still a private non-profit park, it is entirely open to the public from the first Saturday of May to the last Sunday of November, 7am to dusk. Whether coming to walk through the many trails in the park, or to attend one of the various community events, Stanley Park has become a beloved respite for all the people of Westfield and the surrounding area.

Stanley Park's beautiful trails are one of its most striking features, with both nature trails and garden-walk trails. "There are trails for all," says McKean, "the Park provides a serene place of nature and beauty for all to enjoy." There are hundreds of acres of marked nature trails through an area called the Frank Stanley Wildlife Sanctuary, an area that encompasses the river and the woods. These are used by the community for everything from cross-country meets to peaceful walks.

Stanley Park has space for sports of all kinds, not just cross-country or trail hiking. "The Park has tennis courts, a rebound wall, basketball courts," says McKean, not to mention "swings, a playscape and sandbox for the children." It's also the venue for community sports including soccer, lacrosse, Frisbee golf, and rugby.

In the central Park area, walking trails pass through a variety of beautiful places, cultivated and wild. "Guests can walk the slate sidewalks, cross over the International the Covered or the Stone bridges, walk through the Rose Gardens, the Wildlife Flower Garden, the Veterans Memorial, Cathy's Garden, the Asian Garden and all around the Ponds," McKean explains.

Stanley Park also hosts a wide variety of events, from concerts to family events to celebrations. "Our Sunday Night Concerts are very popular," says McKean. They bring people together with the whole community and provide "a nice evening out with family, friends and people you may not have seen for years." While there's food available for purchase, many participants bring picnics.

Each Friday morning during the summer season, Stanley Park hosts a children's event. "There are puppet shows," says McKean, "interactive singing and dancing shows, story tellers and magic shows." The Park also sometimes hosts the Forest Park's Zoo-On-The-Go, with a variety of animals. The zoo is a favorite with kids, suggests McKean, because it "allows the children to get up close, ask questions and even pet some of animals and reptiles."

Around Independence Day, Stanley Park hosts the Rotary of Westfield's Fireworks for Freedom event. "There's food vendors, music, novelty vendors and best of all," says McKean, "many people celebrating our country's freedom."

Stanley Park even holds an event once a year to bring awareness to "accessibility for all." The event is called the Wheel Walk, and McKean says it "is designed to accommodate everyone with or without wheels."

It should be clear that Stanley Park is a true gem of the Westfield community. And the community gathers together to support the Park through a variety of fundraisers. The Park holds a large annual fundraiser with new theme and entertainment each year. And to improve the Park's aging infrastructure, they recently started a Run Stanley 5K fundraiser.

Fundraisers aren't the only way that the Westfield community supports the Park. "Many in the Westfield and surrounding communities support the Park by becoming a donor, a member of the Partners in Preservation program, or a volunteer; and by utilizing the Park for weddings, receptions, company picnics, sporting events and fundraising events, to name a few," mentions McKean. Stanley Park also receives help from the sponsorship of many local businesses and the watchful eye of park patrons.

Stanley Park is a rare beauty. And the people of Westfield know they have something great. The community is "very protective of this jewel we are so fortunate to have in the Westfield Community," says McKean. "Stanley Park sincerely thanks the dedicated Board of Directors, Park Staff and our wonderful volunteers who have helped make Stanley Park a very special place as we enter our 67th year. They are the ones that help us carry on the Legacy of Frank Stanley Beveridge."

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