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Best Park Or Plaza

Reid Park
Country Club Road and 22nd Street

READERS' PICK: Reid Park is a magical fairyland full of...no, wait, that's Narnia. But come to think of it, Reid Park comes darned close to a magical experience. Did you know that if you walk through that big, silvery door/sculpture (the one that's illuminated from within by neon lights) at the south-side entrance of the park, you'll enter a parallel universe? It's true--your life will follow a vastly different path. No lie. Similarly, there's something surreal about those upside-down tree-root sculptures over by the duck pond. Did you know those are actually tree roots that have traveled all the way over here from China? It's true, we swear. Then there's the lovely Rose Test Garden, which will be open again in January of 1999, for the last bloom of the millennium, at which point each tiny blossom will take off to return to the mother ship. Really! Reid Park also has the best outdoor concert space in town, and some wonderfully tall trees. Yes, trees! In Tucson! It's true!

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Named for the family of Alvina Himmel Edmonsen, from whom the City purchased the land in 1935, Himmel Park was part of an initial homestead of 160 acres. It's home to tennis courts, soccer fields and a recently renovated pool that still hearkens back to that era. Some overzealous pet owners have been a bit slack in unleashing their enthusiasm on less canine-inclined park users, but as yet Himmel's size has been sufficient for Frisbee-chasing dogs on the east, and two playgrounds for children a bit further to the west. And one of the park's lesser-touted charms is that it houses the oldest and quaintest public library in the city. Let's not forget the big train and that grassy knoll for outdoor performances like the annual corn festival. The Society for Creative Anachronism meets here twice a week, so don't be surprised if you see jousting. Be sure to look for the two memorial markers to city employees: pool maintenance worker Mark S. Hileman, and librarian Alyce G. Collinge. Hers is near the small tree where her ashes were laid to rest. It says, "Plant the Seed--Read."

CLUE IN: Children's Memorial Park, tucked next to the Rillito near River and Oracle roads, offers a bittersweet experience not soon forgotten. It's a small park with a grove of young trees, a few swings and a basketball court. But over in one corner is the memorial to the far-too-many local kids whose lives have been cut tragically short. Here, families and well-wishers can plant a tree in a child's honor, with each name given its own ceramic tile in tribute. This little island of peace and tranquillity is a moving homage to both the families for whom life continues, and the loved ones they've lost.

Case History

1997 Winner: Himmel Park
1996 Winner: Himmel Park
1995 Winner: St. Philip's Plaza

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