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Facilities Add Vitality

by Ann M. Londrigan

A little more than a month after the official May 31, 1938, dedication of the Murphysboro Park District's Riverside Park band shell (cover photograph), the editors of the Carbondale Herald recognized the park and its unique facility with the following words in print:
"...no other community in Southern Illinois has had the foresight and business acumen to capitalize such a splendid natural advantage as have the people of the county seat. Not only does it afford an ideal breathing spot for the people of Murphysboro, but it is becoming each year to be more and more appreciated by all the people of this section of the state."

A breathing spot. A place to rest and take in some culture. Since its inception during the Roosevelt/WPA years, the Riverside Park band shell has provided its community with a beautiful place to picnic, relax by the Big Muddy River and enjoy live music, live theater and other cultural events. And, as is the nature of well-designed, well-planned park and recreation facilities—it's been a good investment for its community, both in quality of life matters and measurable economic/tourism dollars.

From the WPA facilities of the '30s and '40s to today's water parks, nature interpretive centers, ice rinks, history museums, high-tech fitness and wellness centers—park districts and forest preserves are providing their communities with opportunities to stay fit, have fun and enjoy life fully.

We may provide an occasional frill like hot dogs and soda at a public ball park—but what we're really serving up for kids and families are social, economic and health benefits for our communities.

Now more than ever, words and messages like these should find their way in print in Illinois' major news media and all the local papers where park districts and forest preserves add so much vitality to their communities.

To paraphrase the theme of the 1996 IAPD/IPRA Annual Conference, Let's Deliver the Message!


The newly renovated Murphysboro Park District Riverside Park Band Shell sits along the banks of the Big Muddy River in Southern Illinois. Ken Seeber, freelance photographer based in Murphysboro used Fujichrome professional film for this shot in the early morning light.

Murphysboro Park District

4 * Illinois Parks & Recreation * September/October 1995
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