After 32 years of working for Cleveland Metroparks, I have witnessed not only my own benefits of being out in the park, but those of many others. Anything from family reunions in picnic areas with the amazing aromas of grilling ribs to children studying an inchworm crawling across a leaf they are holding to the fisherman standing in the river hoping for a bite to strollers whizzing by with jogging moms pushing them. Then there’s the class who has come out to discover the many habitats of the park around them, and kids laughing while sitting on the rocks near the woodland stream, or those quietly sitting on a bench just enjoying a gentle breeze coming off the lake. I could go on and on about all I’ve seen, but no matter how one enjoys the park, for the most part, people enjoy numerous unwritten benefits of being in the parks.
Those benefits just didn’t happen on their own. While reading through some of the Annual Reports of the past, I see the commonality of concern for our health and welfare. Visionaries long ago had our best interest at heart. In the First Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park Board (July 30, 1917 – December 31, 1918, I found this statement, “To provide these rural parks and open spaces for the people of the great City of Cleveland and its surrounding communities, as well as to conserve and preserve the valleys in the district, already beautiful by nature, clearly appeared to be the reason for the creation of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District under the law.”