Celebration Park to host celebration

From dirt patch to a gathering place for thousands on Saturday, a look at the history of Celebration Park

Celebration Park is a center for recreation, fun and sports, and serves people every day. Saturday the park will see its biggest crowd of the year when it hosts Allen USA Celebration 2014. Seen from a far and visited by many, few truly know the history of the park.

“The idea for Celebration Park arose in 1999 when the need for an east side community park became evident,” Allen Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Brian Bristow said. “Construction began in 2002 and the park was opened in June of 2003 just in time for the pre- fourth of July event as well as the celebration of Allen’s 50th year as an incorporated municipality (local governing city).”

An aerial view of Celebration park prior to construction.
An aerial view of Celebration Park prior to construction.

After being built, Celebration Park was considered one of the biggest public playgrounds in Texas.

“Back in 2002-03 the staff, the Allen Parks Foundation, the Playwell Group and Dean Construction as well as a host of volunteer citizens partnered to design, fund and construct what was at that time believed to be the largest accessible playground in Texas,” Bristow said.

One of the most recognizable aspects of Celebration Park are the sail pavilions with the red masts.

Known for its red masts and tall sails, Celebration Park is a landmark in Allen.
Known for its red masts and tall sails, Celebration Park is a landmark in Allen.

“The idea was one of the staff’s ideas,” Bristow said. “[The idea] was a response to a desire to have a noticeable landmark feature, day and night, at the park, given the vast openness of the property.”

The rainbow colors of the park were also ideas of the staff.

“As with the sails, the colorful atmosphere was a staff idea,” Bristow said. “Color is one way to introduce vibrancy into the visible environment.”

Continuously updated, the latest renovation took place in April and May with new additions to the kids playground.

“We just finished renovating the kidMania area of the park which is a special component all by itself,” Bristow said.

Portions of the sprayground were also closed recently with the new improvements of safety surfacing and a “wavy seat wall”.

At the swing section of Celebration, special swings were made for a variety of people.

“The conventional strap swings are for everyday use by kids with full mobility,” Bristow said. “The more “secured” swings are for toddlers and mobility impaired kids who for one reason or another need physical support while swinging.”

Although the park is predominantly clean, this past fall, Celebration Park had a run in with a flock of migratory birds, Cattle Egrets.

“The Cattle Egret is a federally protected migratory bird and for this reason once roosting was underway, we had no choice but to work with the situation,” Bristow said. “The area [was] closed off until we [had] completed mitigating the damage to the area.  This [took] several months.”

The droppings from the birds took months to clean up, but the grove of trees in the park is now cleaned out.

Used by surrounding groups and associations, Celebration Park contains fields for at least four different different sports, including four baseball fields, 18 soccer fields, tennis courts, two lacrosse fields, a 1.5 mile perimeter trail, and a rugby field that is now in current arrangement.

“Celebration Park has become synonymous with sports of many kinds,” Bristow said.

Because of the amount of athletic fields, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people can be seen playing at the park.

“On any given weekend when tournaments are heavy there can be up to a few thousand [people],” Bristow said. “We estimate approximately 85,000 persons attended the annual Market Street Allen USA Celebration last summer. [The] Celebration features big name live entertainment and an outstanding fireworks display.”

The Market Street Allen USA Celebration will be held on June 28 this summer, and admission is free.

“It is our annual pre-fourth of July Celebration,”Bristow said. “Market Street, a local retailer (grocer) is the title sponsor of the event.  This year entertainment will be headlined by a vocal group called Pentatonix. The fireworks are spectacular! During the afternoon the park is filled with activities for kids and families and there are food vendors aplenty.”

With thousands of people attending every weekend, and also expected to attend the June 28 celebration, Celebration Park is a community center aimed for fun and recreation.

“The funding for the park was largely made possible with funds from the Allen Community Development Corporation, general obligation bonds and a $500,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,” Bristow said. “It is the largest community park in Allen. It was intended to communicate vitality and energy in a conceptual way, also keeping with the theme of celebrating life.”