Anyone looking to escape and spend some quality time one-on-one with nature and enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer, need look no further than Westfield’s crown jewel of parks – Stanley Park.
“We became Stanley Park on Aug. 16 of 1949. I’m only six months older than the park. I was a baby back then and now I’ve been the director of Stanley Park for about 11 years,” said Robert C. McKean, who noted the park is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year at the same time Westfield celebrates its 350th anniversary.
“Our park is used for a bit of everything from walking and running to picnicking and from enjoying the beauty of nature to concerts, and there are plenty of things for kids to do. After all, the young will become stewards of the park in years to come,” he added.
The park is named after Frank Stanley Beveridge, who was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, and studied for several years at the Mount Hermon School in Northfield. He eventually found his way to Hartford, Conn., where he became director of sales for the Fuller Brush Company. Inc. In 1931, he founded Stanley Home Products Inc. in Westfield. Some 18 years later he established Stanley Park on 25 acres of land.
Today the park consists of nearly 300 plus acres of trails where you will find wildlife and woodland with native trees and wildflowers, woods, picnic areas, recreational facilities, and gardens, including the Rose & Flower Garden, Asian Garden, a Rhododendron Display Garden, The Aboretum, Herb Garden, Barden and Woodland Wildflower Garden. There is also the Frank Stanley Beveridge Wildlife Sanctuary, the Carillon Tower, and a duck pond that is the centerpiece of a Colonial-era Village that includes an orchard, mill and waterwheel, and old town meeting house, covered bridge, carriage shed, blacksmith shop, and arched bridges with a backdrop of flowering azaleas and rhododendron and ducks, fish, and a swan frolicking in the pond.
The park is bustling with all kinds of special events and things to do now through the fall. There is still time to enjoy a few shows before the park’s Sunday Night Concert Series, sponsored by Westfield Bank, ends for the season. The concerts begin at 6 p.m. in the Beveridge Pavilion weather permitting and are free. Chairs will be available along with food for purchase.
Among the remaining concerts are the rock band Shakin’ All Over on July 28, The Karen Carpenter Story starring Donna Lee on Aug. 4, and Bad Moon Risin – The Creedence Fogerty Tribute Band on Aug. 11.
For those who love the sounds of bells, they will be ringing on Aug. 18 and Sept. 22 with two concerts presented at the Carillon Tower. Completed in 1950, the tower is dedicated to world peace and is faced with Indiana limestone and is 98 feet tall and topped with a gold leaf dome.
For kids there is Friday Mornings for Children offering a variety of performances held in the Beveridge Pavilion Annex at 10 a.m. weather permitting. Shows are free and chairs are provided.
Among the remaining performances are The Toe Jam Puppet Band on July 26, Little Red Wagon presents: Cleo’s Egyptian Tale on Aug. 2, and Annie & Safari Bob of the Natural Wonder Band presents: Garden Party on Aug. 9.
And, there is still more for the kids. Special children’s areas in the park offer their young patrons two playscapes with swings located next to each one, as well as a sandbox that is covered with a tent to help keep kids cool and out of the sun.
Stanley Park with its natural habitat is all about nature, and throughout the summer and fall they offer several nature workshops/walks free of charge. Upcoming events include Leave No Trace with the Appalachian Mountain Club at noon on Aug. 31, Fantastic Fungi with the Pioneer Valley Mycological Association at 1 p.m. on Sept. 22, and Trees and Fungi with Dave Lovejoy at 1 p.m. on Sept. 29.
For those who just want to pack a picnic basket and enjoy eating al fresco, the park has two picnic areas to choose from near the Rose Garden and the children’s playscape and athletic field. Tables are on a firstcome, first-served basis and there are grills or fireplaces with barbecue pits for use.
If it’s something bigger like a family reunion, birthday party or company picnic, or even a wedding reception, bridal or baby shower, there are several pavilions for rent by calling 413-568-9312, ext. 100 or 101.
When fall begins knocking on the door, Stanley Park will throw a fundraising party called “Celebrating Our 70th. The event will be held on Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. in the Beveridge Pavilion and will be catered by The Delaney House’s Log Rolling with butler-style hors d’oeuvres, sampling stations and beer and wine. Funds will be raised for the repair of the park’s Rose Garden Fountain and the Aboretum Fountain. Plans are still underway for the party, and those who would like to attend should watch for more updated information on the park website. “We are a private nonprofit and survive on donations, and people thankfully do donate to us. The money allows us to update the park, such as our recent do-over of the Beveridge Pavilion and our just finished rebuilding of our tennis and basketball courts,” McKean said.
The park is officially open from the first Saturday in May through the last Sunday in November from 7 a.m. until dusk. The recreation gate to the park is open during the off season, but their website recommends that “all visitors use extreme caution and care while visiting when the park is officially closed.”
"People do come into the park year-round to walk," McKean said.
Located on 400 Western Avenue, there is no entrance or parking fees to the park, which is handicap accessible.
“We also have a Braille trail. For those of us who can see it’s an opportunity to visit the trail, close our eyes and just listen to and smell the nature around us, just as a blind person would do,” McKean said. Stanley Park even offers free tours to get more acquainted with Westfield’s treasure. The last tour for the season sets off from the Carillon Tower on Aug. 10. To make a reservation, call 413-568-9312, ext. 108 or 112.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PARK, RENTALS AND PERMIT FEES, AND FOR A FULL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS, CALL 413-586-9312 OR VISIT STANLEYPARK.ORG
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