Fireworks fill the night sky over the new Howard Park Friday night as a crowd looks on during the grand opening ceremony in South Bend. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
Fireworks fill the night sky over the new Howard Park Friday night as a crowd looks on during the grand opening ceremony in South Bend. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
SOUTH BEND — South Bend on Friday welcomed the newest version its 120-year-old park system’s centerpiece as thousands of people came downtown to check out Howard Park.

For the past 14 months, construction at the park has been transformed into a destination with a new ice trail and pond, a new community center building, state-of-the-art playground equipment and a green space to host concerts and other events

Some people Friday night took to the playground, one that both adults and children of all ages climbed and slid down slides. Others sat warming themselves next to one of the several new fire pits.

Glenda and Joe Bogucki, of South Bend, were there, keeping warm at the fire pit near the east entrance and marveling at the new $18.8 million Howard Park and its new look.

“I wish I was a skater,” Glenda said, of the new 16,000-square-foot ice venue. “It looks wonderful. I never have seen anything like it.”

Joe Bogucki said he skated at the former Howard Park ice rink when he was a boy. He said the new ice trail and pond that the public will begin to skate on today is a gem.

That was the sentiment of the thousands of people lining the ice trail during the dedication ceremony to South Bend’s newest park transformation.

Aaron Perri, director of venues, parks and arts, welcomed people back, saying the project will bring generations of families together at the site that began in 1899 with a vision by Timothy E. Howard to have a space that is “an ornament to our city and a place of delight to all our people.”

He thanked many groups and individuals, but he pointed out the park’s plan was an embodiment of many people with vision.

“From the rolling hills and the playground, every single thing was somebody’s dream, somebody’s vision,” Perri said. “Welcome back, Howard Park.”
Copyright © 2019, South Bend Tribune