Rowntree Park will be all dressed up on Sunday 20th July, to celebrate its 93rd birthday. The party will start at 1.00 and go on until 4.00. All are cordially invited to attend. There is no charge for admission.
For the first time the party is being organised by the local community. There will be all sorts of entertainment including owl displays, bouncy castle, a model boat regatta, small gauge railway and a basketball demonstration from the York Tornados . For the more energetic there’s skateboarding, tennis, climbing wall, pitch and putt – even a relaxing game of croquet. At the heart of the party will be over 30 community stalls, run by local organisations active in the area, not forgetting food stalls selling home made produce. As with any decent party, there’s a special cake for the occasion, to be cut by the Friends of Rowntree Park. There will be live music and a special jiving display running throughout the afternoon.
The park itself has a special relevance on the centenary of the outbreak WW1 – It was donated by the Rowntree company as a gift to the City of York on July 16th 1921 in memory of its workers who fell in the conflict. There has been a party every year since to commemorate the event.
Sue Scott, chair of the organisation team, said ‘‘As members of the local community, we were pleased to be able to keep the tradition of the Rowntree Park birthday party. There will be attractions for all ages and we hope it is a great opportunity for residents and visitors to celebrate this beautiful park.’
Parking is limited to disabled badge holders only, so other visitors are asked to walk or take public transport. Please note the car park will be closed all day to allow time to set up the event.
Spring is such a beautiful time of the year in the Park. We’re delighted to see all the new green leaves, the fresh blooms and the tiny ducklings, frantically paddling to keep up with mum. This year, we’re also thrilled to welcome new pieces of writing from writers based in York, and in Iceland (where we got the original idea of linking the park benches with poems and prose about the park).
The 16 new pieces are all themed under ‘Spring Fever’ but they range very widely, in style, tone and location; we hope you enjoy reading them.
The Friends were lucky enough to have a City of York representative, Liz Topi, at the most recent Friends’ meeting, and she summarised what was known so far, as far as the Tour de France is concerned.
The Park will be one of 3 ‘hubs’ for activities on the day (6th July), including a big screen showing the Grand Depart in the morning and probably something like a family-friendly sing-along film in the afternoon. Local charities will be offered space for stalls, and there will be food offerings. There will be no alcohol licence in the park. There will be a site manager for the Park, and a health and safety manager.
Outside the park itself, camping pitches will be offered either side of the Millennium Bridge (booked and supervised by the Caravan Club), although if there are few takers not all the campsites will run. Additional toilets etc will be provided for campers (available to the public as well).
Liz could not be more specific about some aspects, because no-one could know how things would go. It is thought there will between 80,000 and 180,000 extra people in York that weekend. Roads will be closed from 3am Sunday, until about midday and then Bishopthorpe Road traders intend to close the road for a street party from midday. All 4 road bridges within the ring road will be closed. All leave has been cancelled for emergency services, with 1000s of volunteers being trained as helpers, by Asda.
There is an additional open meeting on April 10th 5.30pm at the Park Café, to allow further discussion of the Tour de France plans.
The Friends had their first 2014 meeting in January, swiftly followed by the first 2014 meeting of the Birthday Party planning team, in the congenial setting of the Slip Inn. As the council is no longer able to run the Party, the Friends have decided to take it on theirselves. It’ll be a quite a big thing to organise, as a voluntary group but a good team of ‘party planners’ has built up, and we have an able co-ordinator, Sue Scott, who will keep us all communicating and exchanging ideas. At the meeting we were delighted to welcome a Friend of West Bank Park (they are also intending to run their own Fair this year), as well as Jenny (who was the Park Ranger) whose experience in running the Party previously will be invaluable. We are collating ideas of stalls and attractions. If you would like to join the planning group or just to volunteer on the day – or if you have ideas about the party, get in contact using the usual Facebook link or email info @rowntreepark.org.uk. We’re looking for someone to help co-ordinate our musical offerings – could this be you? If you just want to keep in touch with how our plans are going, click on ‘Going’ on the Facebook event page. Meanwhile, make sure you put the date in your diary – Sunday 20th July.
Local writer, Karen Hill-Green, has worked with her fellow Creative Writing MA (York St John) students to collate beautiful new written pieces. So far seven pieces have been created, inspired by Rowntree Park, by being outside and by the wonder of nature. Each of these pieces (poems and prose) can be ‘found’ in the park itself, by looking for small cards with QR codes on benches scattered through the park; just scan the codes with your smart phone to read – for free, thanks to our new WiFi coverage! Follow this link, to find out more, and to read the poems and prose on line, from the comfort of your own home. Alternatively, there is a printed copy of all the pieces in the Reading Café, just ask at the counter.
The written pieces are a lovely addition to the park, which we hope local people will enjoy. All the works are copyright of the writers and of the Friends.
As a new venture for the Young Friends, we’re offering art workshops for children, on Saturday mornings, starting this Saturday, November the 9th. This week, Liz Collier, an exciting local artist, is going to be leading a session based on doodling. The sessions are totally FREE to Friends, and only £2 for others. 10am to 11.30 at Rowntree Park Reading Cafe. Suitable for all primary-age children. Booking essential; please email email@example.com or phone 0758 290 2018.
The long summer of 2013 is finished, and now there is a beautiful blaze of autumn colour in the park. The British autumn always brings with it a crop of fruit, and a crop of Annual General Meetings – and the Friends of Rowntree Park are no different. At the AGM on October 10th, those present discussed the Friends’ work in 2013, and outlined their ideas for 2014.
Over the next few months, the Friends will be working with council staff to source new display/information boards for the park, which the Friends will pay for. We are proposing some children’s art workshops (free to Friends), in the lead up to Christmas, so watch out for further details.
We also discussed the new membership leaflet, created by local designer Katherine Semple (the October 2013 version is pictured here). A hundred copies of the leaflet had been taken by visitors to the park cafe, but without any noticeable corresponding increase in membership!
The major event in 2014 will be the Birthday Party which, this year, the Friends need to take the lead on, because the council no longer has a Ranger Service. If you are interested in helping either in planning the event or on the day itself, get in contact with the Friends as soon as possible - if we cannot create a Party working group, we cannot hold the Birthday Party next year! We are specifically looking for someone to co-ordinate the entertainments, and someone to be the main contact point for the event.
This year’s AGM also saw a new Chair of the Friends, Hugo Bentley, replacing Mike Heyworth, who retired after many years in the post. Hugo lives on Bishopthorpe Road, and is a regular park-user; he and his dog, Digby, are out everyday, at least twice a day, often with Hugo’s wife Rosemary (known as Bud). Many thanks to both old and new Chairs, and to all the active members of the committee, for all their hard work.