From Eyesore To Plaza With A Capital “P”: Meridian Parks & Recreation invites public to Chisholm Trail Plaza Grand Opening ceremony followed by free live music & dance March 26
MERIDIAN – When Bosque County moved its jail and Sheriff’s Office to the new law enforcement center east of town, Meridian was left with a deteriorating building on one of the main entry ways to the town.
Thanks to the dogged determination, continuous persistence, blood, sweat and tears of a core group of engaged citizens the building was transferred to the city by the county in 2019, and the eyesore was torn down, slowly but surely transformed into a beautiful, multi-functional facility for public use. The road between receiving the deed and the completion of the Chisholm Trail Plaza as it stands today was a rocky one, with many unexpected curves, pitfalls and challenges.
So now, the Chisholm Trail Plaza is finally completed, it is time for a party! Meridian Parks and Recreation Committee invites the public to a festive Grand Opening on Saturday, March 26 at 7 p.m.
After a short official ceremony in which Bosque County Judge Cindy Vanlandingham symbolically hands off the keys to Meridian Mayor Ryan Nieuwenhuis, and recognitions of the many people and organizations involved in the construction of this special facility, there will be refreshments with cake, cupcakes and popcorn.
With the concrete slab at the Plaza perfect for dancing, the Parks and Recs board is initiating quarterly community outdoor dances, starting with Chad Holt and the Chiselers featuring Miriam “Muther Mirm” Wallace after the opening ceremony. So be sure to bring you dancing boots if you are so inclined. The Rockin’ K&C Barbecue food truck will be on hand for those wanting something to eat while enjoying the live music entertainment.
Under the motto “Our Town, Our Tomorrow,” the Parks and Recreation Committee’s general vision is to improve the quality of life for Meridian and area citizens, and to increase community engagement in outdoor activities. The specific vision for the prominent spot in town was a prime place for citizens to come together, to complement the John A. Lomax Amphitheater, to enjoy beautiful outdoor spaces in the town.
And they have achieved that goal with a village of volunteers and supporters, many, many, many hours of back breaking work mowing and weed eating, putting in soil, leveling the ground, researching equipment, gathering quotes for third party construction, coordinating the work, finding donations.
“This whole process of creating the plaza started back in 2017, through a long process of Master Park planning, repeated meetings with the Bosque County Commissioners, Meridian City Council,” Meridian Parks and Recreation President Don Hatley said. “We couldn’t have come this far without the incredible support from the Meridian Volunteer Fire Department, Meridian City Employees and equipment, other civic organization like Grassroots and many individual volunteers. Some have really invested hundreds of volunteer hours.
“All this support and cooperation is truly amazing and we appreciate everything they have done into making this community a better place. It leaves us with even a greater desire and commitment to continue making improvements. Think about it, it is a transformation of the entrance into town over the Bosque Bridge. You need to look at what we have accomplished in five years with just volunteers, and realize that what we are doing here is very much worth putting time and effort into.
“We welcome everybody to come celebrate this grand opening, and maybe consider becoming a part of the group moving forward.”
Transforming the area was part of a Master Parks Plan initiated by AgriLife Extension Agent Kate Whitney and AgriLife Extension Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences Jamie Rae Walker. Whereas the amphitheater is more suited for smaller audiences, the plaza offers a stunning outdoor venue for larger crowds.
On May 7, the Glenn Quarles Jam Session showcases local musicians on the new stage after a potluck dinner. Anyone who can play an instrument or can sing is invited to join the musicians on stage to create an evening of musical delight. So be sure to mark your calendars.
Named the Chisholm Trail Plaza to commemorate the cattle drives coming through Bosque County in the 1867-1884 and the birth of the cowboy, the facility has a permanent stage, public restrooms – that citizens have requested for years – perimeter seating, and festive lights.
To enhance the area, this spring play equipment will be placed in the space between the Plaza and the Amphitheater. Additionally, two pickle ball courts will be laid out on the slab, with a practice slab on the spot where the jail’s recreation yard used to be. With the Lion’s Park play equipment, the nine-hole disc golf course, the washer/horseshow throwing pits area citizens will have a lot of activities to chose from.
With the weekly Farmers’ Market, regular tournaments, the monthly free outdoor movie nights at the amphitheater, the quarterly free live music and dancing at the plaza, the annual Chisholm Trail Roundup – a celebration of Meridian’s birthday with all manner of activities, a car show and a chili cook off – the Christmas on the Bosque parade and lighting of the lights, the Meridian Parks and Recs has transformed the town’s calendar, reaching their goal of improving the citizens’ quality of life.
And there is now a community garden on B Street for people to share. “Our Town, Our Tomorrow” is better because of it. Additionally, there are plans for a LED sign by the Chisholm Trail Plaza to inform the public about upcoming events.
As the spring progresses, plants and grass around the plaza will grow, the Meridian Park’s trees will offer their lush green shade canopy, Farmers’ Market will return and the nation’s colors will fly on the flagpole, bringing the newly developed outdoor space to life for all to enjoy.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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