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Cleaning up Community Park

By Fran Gonzalez | Apr 29, 2021
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Brooks town clerk Jane McLaughlin, along with her grandson Oliver, dumps debris into a dumpster from several outbuildings at the Community Park April 24.

Brooks — Coinciding with Earth Day, communities across Waldo County were out in force last week, picking up, beautifying and restoring area landscapes.

In Brooks, members of the Parks and Recreation Committee, along with volunteers, convened at Community Park on Purple Heart Highway Saturday, April 24, as part of the town-sponsored Cleanup Day.

Jane McLaughlin, Brooks town clerk, said there have been many memories made at the bucolic park bounded by the Marsh Stream during its heyday in the '60s and '70s, where the cherished Field Days were held annually.

"You were nobody if you weren't here on the Fourth of July," she said.

The park, she said, was privately owned until last fall, when the town acquired it. Three buildings on the park property have fallen into disrepair in recent years, and volunteers were busy cleaning debris and salvaging what could be saved.

One central building with tables and games, according to Rec Committee member Susan Lindsay, was where people would gather to play bingo. Looking over the room was like looking at a time capsule from the '70s, with volunteers finding games and bingo cards from that era.

The building, which looked sound except for the debris, had a kitchen at one point, Lindsay said, but the equipment no longer works and she was not sure if it would be saved. Another, smaller building will be moved out of the park and continue be used, she said. Lindsay did not know if the third building would be razed.

In an earlier Brooks Garden Club meeting, Selectman Mike Switzer outlined several ideas that had been discussed for revamping the park, including installing a walking path around the perimeter, which totals almost a mile; creating a dog park; building a gazebo; a performance stage; an ice skating rink; or a handicapped-accessible fishing dock, to name a few.

This year Brooks is planning a Fourth of July celebration at the park with food trucks, a chicken barbecue, antique arts and crafts, antique cars, kids' games, live music and dancing in the evening, and, topping the night off, fireworks.

Also planned for early June is a townwide day of transplanting daylilies made possible by donations from renowned lily grower Bill Warman of Waldo.

In a testament to the glorious Field Days which were later referred to as Hay Days, the July 4, 1982, event featured a cross-country race, a parade through town, horseshoe pitching, a chicken barbecue, a horse pull and show, a 4-H cattle show, children's games, weight lifting, arm wrestling, canoe races, carnival rides and concessions, all for $2 or children under 12 for $1.

McLaughlin said, "We are very fortunate we have some dedicated volunteers who share our vision of what they want this (park) to be."

While the park is still a work in progress, volunteers are always needed. Anyone interested in putting some sweat equity into the community park or helping to plant lilies can call McLaughlin at the Town Office at 722-3254.

From the playground at the Community Park in Brooks looking east toward the soccer field April 24. The First Congregational Church steeple can be seen in the background. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Brooks Community Park wraps around the Marsh Stream, shown here on cleanup day April 24. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Inside the main building at the Community Park filled with toys, games and relics from the past, shown here April 24. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
(Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
(Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
(Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Toys and games found at the main building at the Brooks Community Park April 24. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Brooks Town Clerk Jane McLaughlin cleans up debris at the Community Park with help from her grandson Oliver Stubbs April 24. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Young Oliver Stubbs rides with his grandmother, Town Clerk Jane McLaughlin at Brooks Community Park April 24. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Views of Marsh Stream from the Brooks Community Park April 24. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Interior of one of the outbuildings at the Brooks Community Park shows signs of vandalism April 24. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
A flyer from 1982 advertising the events at the Brooks Field Day sponsored by the Booster Club at the Community Park. (Courtesy of: Brooks Historical Society)
(Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
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