Dedication of Smokey Bear Park Set for Wednesday, Jan. 21


The City of Gainesville Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department (PRCA) is holding the dedication of the newly renovated Smokey Bear Park, located at 2300 NE 15th St., Wednesday, Jan. 21 from 3-4:30 p.m. The improvements, which include a new playground, picnic facilities and a pavilion, walking paths, dog park and parking area, were funded with the voter-approved Wild Spaces-Public Places (WSPP) half-cent sales tax initiative.

“This project is significant because it marks the conclusion of the WSPP funded park improvements,” says Steve Phillips, director of PRCA. “The half-cent tax initiative was overwhelmingly approved by Alachua County voters in 2008 to be used for land conservation and park improvements. Since then, the City of Gainesville has provided its citizens with improvements at more than 20 parks and facilities, as well as the acquisition of more than 400 acres of conservation land to be used for passive nature parks.”

The Smokey Bear Park dates back to the 1960s, and has a unique partnership effort including the Florida Forest Service, Alachua County and the Rotary Club of Gainesville. The renovations reflect these ties, with several elements throughout the grounds. The Rotary Club provided funds for an artist to refurbish the faded Rotary wheel decorative feature that dates back to the park’s origins. Also, the beloved Forest Service mascot, Smokey Bear, is featured in a uniquely themed playground. The improvements benefit the east side of Gainesville, providing citizens with a safe and inviting place to play.

“On weekends, the park has already been packed with people enjoying the different amenities,” says Linda Demetropoulos, nature operations manager for PRCA. “Children especially love the new play structure with its numerous slides, tall tower and bear-shaped climber.”

The public is welcome to attend the dedication to experience the new features and bring together the community spirit that makes parks like Smokey Bear special. Please contact Kim Harris, staff specialist, to RSVP at 352-393-8182 or

For additional information regarding Smokey Bear Park or other WSPP projects, please contact Linda Demetropoulos, nature operations manager, at 352-393-8445 or

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