CANTON: Nearly a full generation after Mother Gooseland closed its gates, the Canton Park Commission officially will reopen it in conjunction with First Friday activities May 2.
“We are very happy to do our part in returning this beloved site to the Canton community,” city Parks Director Derek Gordon said in a prepared statement.
Many local children grew up with the park, an idea born in 1954 that included live animal displays and such storybook characters as Humpty Dumpty and the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe.
Mother Gooseland largely was abandoned from the 1980s until restoration work began in 2013.
“The park is going to be very different from its original construction as the demands of the modern park user have changed and there are features from the original park that could not be restored,” Gordon said. “However, we are trying our best to honor the historical aspects of Mother Gooseland while providing modern amenities in the park.”
Willy the Whale and the park’s signature entrance gates have received significant makeovers through the generosity and volunteerism of several community partners, including U.S. Technologies, ArtsinStark, GE Capital and ystark!
While the goal is to retain the nostalgia and history of the park, Gordon said, nearly every other area of the park is in the midst of receiving updates. Almost all the features designed for Stage One of the park’s master plan will be on display when it reopens.
Two new elements to be unveiled at 5:30 p.m. May 2 will be the city’s first dog park and a new trail, built in partnership with Stark Parks, that will run through the heart of the park. The event also will highlight a new mural painted by local artist Steve Ehret that reinterprets the historic features from the original Mother Gooseland.
“Through the tireless efforts of several community partners, Mother Gooseland is back on track to be a vibrant city destination,” Gordon said. “Canton Parks will continue to seek partners and donations for the completion of Stage Two and Stage Three of the park master plan.”
Mother Gooseland is west of downtown in the 1500 block of Tuscarawas Street West.
The full plan for the park can be viewed at the Canton Parks website, www.cantonohio.gov/parks, or at the Canton Parks page on Facebook.
Nancy Molnar can be reached at email@example.com.