On April 8, 1963, then-Probate Judge Neal Zimmers approved a petition to start a new park district in Dayton. Thanks to the efforts of a group of forward-thinking citizens concerned with quickly disappearing green space, efforts to protect the region’s natural heritage created what we know today as Five Rivers MetroParks.
For the past 50 years, Five Rivers MetroParks has provided outdoor experiences that inspire a personal connection with nature. These experiences are unique for each visitor — some come to the parks for their offerings in exciting outdoor adventure. Others visit as a get-away from harried urban life. Still others enjoy the reactions from their children or grandchildren watching them experience nature for the first time (or as if it were the first time). Echoing the individualized experience the parks offer, Five Rivers MetroParks has launched a “Hidden Nature” campaign, showcasing “secret” areas of the parks and glimpses into the history of the organization.
The activities kick off on Wednesday, April 10, with a public event at the Schuster Center in downtown Dayton. The event is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public; complimentary parking is available at the adjacent Arts Garage. MetroParks VIPs from the past and present will be on hand to share stories, and select archive materials also will be on display.
One component of the “Hidden Nature” campaign is an art exhibit. Local artists Amy Kollar Anderson, Bing Davis, Gretchen Durst Jacobs, Marsha Pippenger, and Ron Rollins all contributed nature-inspired artwork. To illustrate the spirit of the campaign, QR codes and telephone extensions have been hidden throughout each piece of the collection. Scan the QR code and enter the four-digit extension to receive a secret message about the parks and their history.
Another way to celebrate MetroParks’ golden anniversary is by trying to find all 50 Things to See and Do. Some items on the list may already be a family favorite, but the MetroParks staff is willing to bet that you can find several cool things you never knew about your parks.
Visit metroparks.org/history and take a peek back into the archives. Staff has been searching through boxes and boxes of photos, scrapbooks, old brochures, and more, in pursuit of some really cool relics from our past.
We hope the community has enjoyed helping us preserve and enhance our regional green spaces as much as we love providing these facilities every day. See you at the Schuster!