Roethke Park--A Wonderful Place
Katherine Creed

Roethke Park is not just any old park, but a park filled with beauty, excitement and many things to do. This park was established in 1973, in Thomas Township, a gift of nearly seventy-two acres of land from Margaret Roethke, as a memorial to her late son, Carl L. Roethke. Carl was the brother of the famous Saginaw poet, Theodore Roethke. The park is located off of Gratiot Road on Leddy Road, just past Crooked Creek golf course and bowling alley on the left-hand side.

When visitors pull into the park the entrance is covered with humongous trees that tower over them. Roethke Park is packed full of people during the summer time with day camps, sand volleyball games, picnics, and people walking their dogs and canoeing. In the fall there is one special event: Halloween. In the middle of October the Thomas Township Parks and Recreation put on a haunted train ride, which attracts people from all over Saginaw.

I recently visited Roethke Park, and as I stepped out of my car I could smell the unique warm scent of fall. To the left of the park is a swimming pool, shaped like an L and covered with a big black tarp for the frigid winter that is soon to come. Next to the pool is a small square building, the bathhouse. The bathhouse is a white building with funny little characters drawn all over. This would be the wonderful artwork of Jay Fosgitt, a graduate from Swan Valley High school who is very involved in the community. To get into the bathhouse you have to walk around the back. When you enter the building, to the left is the boy's locker room. In the middle is the office for the lifeguards, and to the right are the girls' locker rooms.

Next to the building are the sand volleyball courts. There is a big rectangle of gritty sand and two large white nets. There are also two sets of silver aluminum bleachers for the fans to watch from.

In the back of the park is a man-made pond. It is quite large, but dirty. When the sun hits it just right, with no wind, it resembles a mirror. There is a small dock that stretches out into the water where people feed the small fish. Around the pond there are metal benches covered with a hard green plastic for people to sit. There are about six canoes chained up to a pole in front of the dock.

Moving to the right and back towards the parking lot are covered cement slabs on which picnic tables sit. All of the tables are old and wooden. They have carvings all over them from the teenagers who tend to party in the park on late summer nights.

In between the volleyball courts and the covered picnic tables are a variety of playground toys. The toys consist of an old dark wooden contraption for children to play on. It contains a small shiny slide, monkey bars, tires to climb on, two parallel bars, and a bright red metal steering wheel for children to pretend they are driving a great big mysterious object. Next to that is a large colorful merry-go-round that squeaks as it spins around in circles. Beside the merry-go-round is a very tall shiny slide for the older children. Finally, there is a swing set. The swings are connected with long chains and have black seats that form to your body when occupied.

Behind the playground is a large brown metal barn with train tracks coming out of both ends. This is where the Indian Trail Miniature train is kept. When the train is in motion it weaves in and out of trees and crosses a bridge. The train ride lasts about five minutes. This miniature train is silver, red, and blue, and it even has a horn that sounds like a real train.

During Halloween the train ride is loud from all of the children screaming as the monsters and goblins jump out of the woods to scare them. The woods contain a smell of wet fog made by machines, so the ride is spooky and nerve-wracking. There is also music playing that has the crackling laughs of witches, owls hooting, and creepy critters.

Directly behind and to the right is the day camp headquarters. This building is small and old. It is made out of wood and is painted a dark brown. When you walk in the front door, to your left, are the girls' and boys' bathrooms and a small kitchen. It contains a refrigerator, a sink, and some cupboards. The rest of the building is full of tables and chairs neatly lined up for the day camp children. Day camp is only held during the summer, during which the children are required to just have fun all day. The children make arts and crafts, go swimming, canoeing, play on the playground, and take special field trips.

As you can imagine Roethke Park is a place of beauty and excitement. This park offers many fun things to do, such as swimming, playing volleyball, canoeing, and taking creative nature walks. This park also has great historical value and brings the community together during special times such as Halloween. Many people visit this park just to get away from the crazy world we live in and relax. I have been there many times, just to get some peace and quiet. I would recommend everyone go and visit this park, especially the haunted train ride.

The written and visual works in Mid-Michigan Remembers-Stories about Us were chosen on the basis of their quality, diversity, community interest and appeal. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the College. This space is provided as a service by Delta College.