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Stanely Park the place to be this summer

Date: 6/16/2009

By Amanda Lemon

Staff Intern

WESTFIELD -- Stanley Park is the place to be this summer. The park is featuring a full calendar celebrating its 60th year with 60 days of fun and special events.

Described as "a little slice of heaven" by Managing Director Robert McKean, Stanley Park has firmly established itself within the community.

"It's a wonderful location where people have access to a host of activities ... for all ages," he said. "It gives families a place to go together."

This summer's festivities -- all of which are free to the public -- will serve to highlight Stanley Park's universal appeal. The 60 days of celebration began June 15 and feature events such as the first ever Wheel Walk on June 20, designed to raise awareness about those with disabilities.

"The number one thing for us is we are ambassadors to the public ... providing an enjoyable stay and a safe environment [for visitors]," McKean said.

The park will also be offering historical tours throughout the summer, every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. During this time, visitors can roam the park's 300 acres of preserved land while learning its rich history and the legacy of founder Frank Stanley Beveridge.

A more formal addition to the slate of summer activities will be a black tie optional gala titled "All That Jazz, Second Time Around." Singer and Westfield native Sarah Elizabeth Charles will be the night's featured jazz entertainment.

Stanley Park will conclude its 60 days of celebration with a parade and birthday party on Aug. 16, the day the park was formally established in 1949.

The day's events will begin at Highland Elementary School at 1 p.m., where the parade will kick off its march down Western Avenue. From there, the group will make its way through the main gates of Stanley Park, where the party ensues.

"Everyone, everywhere is invited to join [the festivities]," Office Manager Jill Moretz said.

Though exact plans for the party have yet to be finalized, Moretz assured "there will be live entertainment and a very large birthday cake." Also present will be various vendors, selling favorites such as fried dough, ice cream and pizza.

The grand celebration is meant not only to memorialize the 60th anniversary of the park, but also to revel in the community dynamic, according to park officials.

The park will unveil a commemorative booklet to memorialize the occasion as a testament to 60 years worth of visitors and memories.

"Sixty Years of Preservation" will feature pictures, personal narratives and special events that have taken place at the park. Those with a personal story to share may e-mail them to McKean at