Where: 185 Murray Street
Hours: 8am-Nightfall, daily
Activities: Clothing drives, ice cream socials, food giveaways, working closely with children, general fun at the park
Directions: Click Here
Travel downtown to the heart of Binghamton’s First Ward and you’ll find a host of interesting places to visit. The area is packed with restaurants, community centers and most notably antique shops, but travel across Clinton Avenue heading down Murray Street, and you may be surprised to find a small park nestled in between the houses of the quiet neighborhood…Welcome to Sunflower Park.
Up until a few years ago, Murray Street Park, as it was then known, was nothing more than run down lot with a few pieces of play equipment. Few children ever came to play, and the area was never given the attention that it deserved. Thanks to the help of a handful of dedicated citizens and the “Design Your Own Park” organization—an initiative started right here at Binghamton University, Sunflower Park was able to blossom.
2010 was the turning point. The park was renamed and a steering committee was formed to help come up with ideas for the new park. Residents of the First Ward and Binghamton University worked together to both beautify the park, and to promote it throughout the community. The work was hard, and although it is technically a city park, the group did not have many financial resources to work with. Thanks to the dedication of a few tireless residents, the park was able to get some of the amenities that it desperately needed. With the help of the City of Binghamton and some grant money, the steering committee was able to equip the park with running water and electricity. This revolutionized the type of events and activities that could take place there. As the years went by, the park continued to flourish; benches were added, as well as some grills, new play equipment, a mural (painted by the local kids), a vegetable garden, and the most famous symbol of the park, a beautiful pavilion, decorated with a huge and ornate mosaic depicting sunflowers in full bloom.
As the park continued to grow, so did its influence in the community. More and more children came to play, and they weren’t the only ones. Nowadays it isn’t unusual to see a couples sitting together on the benches or an elderly person stopping by to watch the children play. Sunflower Park is a great place for people of all ages to relax and have fun.
There is so much to do at the park, thanks to the group of about ten active citizens that have made the park their main concern. Every Friday, you can find them at the park around noon, handing out packages of food to families in need. And that’s not all–the park hosts a plethora of annual events such as a Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner, clothing drives, and ice cream socials. All of it is made possible by that same group of hardworking residents, and most of the money comes from their own pockets. The real impact that Sunflower Park has had on the community is to change the way that the people in the First Ward view their community. The park is a safe haven where people of all ages can go to interact with each other in a positive way.
Although Sunflower Park is thriving, there are many new events and programs that the steering committee would like to put into action, and they are always looking for new volunteers. If you are looking for a fun and rewarding way to get involved in the Binghamton Community, this could be a great opportunity. Simply contact Mary Lou Rutkowski or Patricia Tuttle for more information.
Thanks for reading, and remember to watch out for where Harpo turns up next!