Power of the park
By Jenn Watt
Published May 15, 2018
One of Haliburton’s most iconic trees came down last week. The big old willow that once towered over the bridge in Head Lake Park took a beating during a windstorm at the beginning of the month. When arborists came to assess it, not only did they find the top had snapped off, but it was partially uprooted. As it was no longer safe to leave standing, the tree was removed.
It’s not clear how old the tree was, but people remember generations of children using it. There was almost always a rope tied to the top of one of its two trunks and during the heat of the summer there was almost always a kid playing on it.
When the news was posted on the Echo’s Facebook page that the tree had come down, readers were quick to post their memories of the tree. Some even shared photos of themselves and their kids, sky bright blue, tree glowing green, everyone having fun.
“Watching the kids swing on the rope into the river was a huge attraction for visitors to the Art & Craft Festival, and my favourite entrance gate to cover. ‘Twill be missed!” said one Facebook post.
“We will miss this tree. It brought a lot of fun and laughter to a lot of children in Haliburton. Even the parents had a few jumps from its great branches!” wrote another.
The tree is a loss for kids who loved to play on it and also for those of us who enjoyed its presence. Trees are comforting; they feel solid and safe. Their shade from the sun, and the sound they make as the wind blows through their branches, is magical.
The attachment the community has to this tree is a testament to the importance of our park and a reminder that we need to preserve what we have and continue to make it better.
In recent years, we’ve seen a new bandshell, outdoor exercise equipment, LED lighting, garden, aeration of the beach area, washrooms and public wi-fi access. (Service club donations, government grants and tax dollars have all contributed to these improvements.)
The park hosts almost all of the major events in town and this summer is set to host even more, including a craft beer festival, soap hockey championship/music festival and ribfest, to name a few.
For those who have always had Haliburton’s waterfront available to them, the park might not stand out, but for those of us who grew up in other places, the beauty of Head Lake Park is striking.
Choices to build walking/cycling paths, install public art, host music in the park, put money into cleaning it up and continue to maintain the trees, shrubs and flowers creates a true community hub.
Our park is truly something special.
We need to protect and enhance it, creating more opportunities to get outside and play.