Happy 247th Independence Day, America! Please fasten your seatbelts as summer is about to fly by, the night sky illuminated by the fireworks of the 4th of July. This seems like the perfect place to begin my article, as I had a chance to grab lunch with Mayor Derek Slaughter last week. He informed me about a lot of great things going on in the City of Williamsport as summer gets into full swing. I’ll start with the July 4th tradition of the Set the Night to Music celebration.
The Mayor will again lead the Pledge of Allegiance before the rockets’ red glare. The downtown celebration begins at 3 p.m., with the fireworks going off at 9:40. As always, there will be a fantastic schedule of entertainment, food, and fun to be had by all. This occurring while that gigantic American Flag is waving above the event.
The Mayor’s main focus of conversation over lunch was about all the happenings within parks, recreation, and open spaces in Williamsport. We are both big believers in how important it is for people to have first-class places to enjoy the physical activities of their choosing, even if it’s just walking. This also provides individuals places to gather and spend time together in a positive manner, which helps to build pride within their neighborhoods and community.
Before I get on to some of the details, like anything in today’s world, it takes more money than ever to provide the improvements in parks and recreation the City of Williamsport is taking on. I would like to inform the taxpayers that most of the funding is coming through the American Rescue Plan, Community Development Block Grants, and DCNR grants. The Mayor would like to thank his state and federal partners for helping to make this all happen. It’s also worth noting, on the official side of things; the city is currently in the process of updating its comprehensive plan with DCNR for additional funding in the future.
So now for some details. Mayor Derek and I are big basketball and baseball fans, so that’s where I will begin. If you take a drive by Memorial Park, you will see the US Air Force court, complete with glass backboards. The USAF has teamed up with the city to make this happen. The Mayor and Master Sergeant Leo Knight-Inglesly are leading the way. The adjacent pickleball court has also gotten a makeover. The basketball courts at Shaw Park, Young’s Woods, and Lose have been or are being redone. Lose Park will be fully renovated, including new playground equipment that meets ADA guidelines.
If you want to stay cool this summer, everything is open at Memorial Park’s Splash Cove. This is being kept clean by a new $200,000 filtration system. The pool is open every day from noon till 7. It’s even available for party and event rentals. In the east end of town, Shaw Park now has a splash park which is a pretty cool idea. On the baseball and softball side of things, Brandon Park is getting a complete makeover. There will be new Little League fields for both. The big field up above will be transformed into a top-notch facility for Lycoming College baseball and St. John Neumann to call home.
Brandon Park is in the midst of a complete renovation, including tennis courts, playground equipment, and even the Band Shell. The Mayor wants people back in Brandon Park enjoying all it has to offer.
I spent a lot of days in Brandon Park as a baseball coach, as a dad with the kids, and some time as both. The Mayor and the City of Williamsport’s commitment to getting both back to this special place brings a smile to my face. Maybe we can even get Chief Knock-a-Homer, I mean Woapalanne, back to his original home. Just kidding.
I guess this is a good place for me to stop, although I have much more from the Mayor I’ll get to at a future date. A tip of my old Brandon Little League cap with the American Flag on the side to the Mayor and all that are making things happen throughout Billtown.
In closing things out this week, Editor Steph has the winner of the Great American Cookout package when you flip the page. Thank you to the nearly 1,000 folks that took the time to register. It was great to talk to so many of you as you stopped by the office to drop off your registration forms.
As you’re enjoying your 4th of July picnics, ball games, and fireworks, take a moment and say a prayer for the American Soldier, provider of our Freedom, each and every day.
God Bless America.