Chippewassee Park is a River Days favorite

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As you watch the hot air balloons take off or take part in the corn hole event at downtown Chippewassee Park for River Days this weekend, a family frozen in time will be in attendance.

Chippewassee Park, located west of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa rivers at the end of Ashman Street, is known for its festivals and community events in the summer, including River Days.

By attending River Days events this weekend, you might mistake the sculpture for four Midlanders enjoying the festivities hand in hand. Just over 40 years ago, a local sculptor created the artwork that now sits on a berm at the end of the Tridge on the Chippewassee Park side.

The Daily News shared a photo of James Hopfensperger, sculptor and art coordinator of Midland Public Schools, posing with a wax model of the sculpture scheduled for July 14, 1981.

According to the July 1981 article, the family sculpture was donated by the Midland Area Community Foundation, then known as the Midland Foundation, and was offered to members of Midland City Council at a meeting of the city. Former Midland Foundation President Esther Gerstacker said Chippewassee Park is a park for all Midlanders.

“It’s a park for everyone, young and old,” she wrote in a letter to city council, as reported in the 1981 Daily News article. “A sculpture showing active participation would be a great first step outside the Tridge.”

According to the Daily News archives, it is not known when the sculpture was erected in Chippewassee Park. But over time, the City of Midland Parks and Recreation has declared the park to be one of the most popular parks in the city, making the sculpture a focal point for many Midlanders who hang out in the park.

In 1981, the Midland Daily News reported that the Chippewassee Park Master Plan was adopted by Midland City Council at a meeting on August 24. At the time, the city’s planning director, James Schroeder, said the park would be developed as a “passive park.” “

The 35 acres of the park provide plenty of recreational opportunities. In the summer, families can bring their children to enjoy the playground while parents cool off under the picnic shelter available for hire. When traditional events come to an end and the weather begins to turn from beautiful to freezing, the open space makes for a cross-country ski destination.

The City of Midland has braced for the return of River Days activities to Chippewassee Park this week. Be sure to visit www.ourmidland.com for slideshows and stories from this annual festival.


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