Made in Michiana: Howard Park

Made in Michiana: Howard Park

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—This week’s Made in Michiana brings us to South Bend’s first park.

Founded in 1899 on a plot of land situated perfectly along the river, Howard Park was originally used as a city dump.

As time went on, it was then known as Howard’s Pleasure Ground, as the word “park” didn’t make many appearences in the vernacular of the time.

Eventually, the spot gained a reputation for picnics and larger gatherings.

Fifty years ago, ice skating and a community center were introduced to Howard Park.

Fast forward to present day, as part of the city-wide My South Bend Parks and Trails project, $50 million worth of investment is happening in every pocket of the community.

“We wanted to make sure we had a signature project for everyone to enjoy,” said Aaron Perri, Executive Director of South Bend Venues Parks and Arts.

After a couple of years’ worth of community input meetings, it took 14 months from start to finish to renovate the park on South St. Louis Boulevard. The park officially reopened on Black Friday in 2019.

“About 50% of the project was privately funded, with grants, partnerships and sponsors,” Perri said. “The generosity of this community is another example that the city was ready for this.”

The newly renovated park was designed with four seasons in mind. It has bright colors and even if you don’t know how to ice skate, you can go and enjoy a hot chocolate around the fire pit while listening to music.

Setting the park apart from others is its new ice bridge, where skaters can glide over as part of the ice trail.

“It exceeded my expectations. This place is magical if you haven’t experienced it, no words can describe it,” Perri said.

At three months old, the new Howard Park saw more than 100,000 visitors.

“It’s a beautiful place to be,” Perri said.

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