Douglass Park wraps up Centennial Celebration with commemorative banquet

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 17, 2016) – This past Saturday, local leaders and residents gathered to mark the end of the year-long Douglass Park 100th anniversary celebration, with a special community banquet. Throughout the past year, more than 50 Centennial events were held to celebrate the well-known West End park, including an historic tree planting, a new Jazz Music Nights event series and the reveal of a new park playground design.

Notable banquet attendees included Councilmembers James Brown, Shevawn Akers, Richard Moloney and Angela Evans. Also in attendance were Lexington Fire Chief Kristin Chilton and Glenn Brown, Lexington’s deputy chief administrative officer. Rev. Dr. Gerald Smith, history professor at the University of Kentucky, delivered the keynote speech.  

“The banquet was the Commission’s way of celebrating the history of this park,” said Councilmember Brown, whose district includes Douglass Park. “It was also our way of thanking those who helped to provide opportunities and worked to keep the park safe for our youth and families in the community.”

In the fall of 2015, Mayor Jim Gray announced the formation of the Douglass Park Centennial Commission, a 25-member group of community stakeholders representing neighborhoods, businesses, schools, churches and city officials in the area. First District Councilmember James Brown organized the commission and served as its chairman.

Named for civil rights leader and educator, Frederick Douglass, Douglass Park opened in 1916 as the first African-American park in Central Kentucky. During segregation, Douglass Park was one of the few places black residents could go for recreation and entertainment.  The park is located 726 Georgetown Street and still serves as a great resource to the community. 

Over the past year, Mayor Gray, the Commission and many volunteers have worked to honor Douglass Parks’ 100th anniversary. The celebration kicked-off with the planting of 100 trees through a partnership with Lexington Parks & Recreation and Lexington Habitat for Humanity. 

Other Centennial events included Leadership Lexington’s 100 Hands Project, the West End Family Reunion, the YMCA Back-to-School Rally, a Booker T. Washington school essay contest, Family Movie Nights, Super Sunday and the return of the historic Dirt Bowl basketball tournament. 

Also, this past year the Commission revealed the design of a new playground at Douglass Park. Construction is expected to begin later this month and the project is expected to be completed by spring 2017. For more details on the playground project, visit the city’s website.