Memories & Milestones in the Metro Parks

Stephanie Walton, Chief of Marketing & Communications

Paul and Christine Schweigert met at Firestone Metro Park.

Life is full of meaningful moments. With 100 years of history, how many memories have been created right here in your Summit Metro Parks?

For many residents, those priceless recollections include visits to the parks with their families. When her four now-grown children were small, Sujata Patel remembers visits to Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton for “hiking, exploring, looking for fish in the ponds, picnics at the picnic tables and in the lawn by the boathouse, and hours of discovering various parts of nature. When I homeschooled, we would go to Pheasant Run and run the loop several times. We’d always stop in the pine forest as the sun was rising and the rays created the most magical scene.”

Jerry Welch enjoys memories of feeding the birds with his young daughter.

Visitor Jerry Welch has similar memories at Firestone Metro Park in Akron. “I began feeding birds out of my hand at Firestone many years ago, first chickadees, then the occasional nuthatch and tufted titmouse may alight on the outstretched hand for a nibble of sunflower seeds,” he shared. “Many fond memories of taking my young daughter there decades ago to feed the birds from her tiny hand!”

Meghan Meeker and Scott Roger married at Sand Run Metro Park.

Or, maybe your story is a romantic one. As Summit County’s “back yard” for a century, the Metro Parks have seen countless first dates, marriage proposals and weddings. Sand Run Metro Park neighbor Meghan Meeker told us the parks “made me fall in love with the city, were the backdrop for falling in love with my husband, and now they are the literal back yard of my first home. My husband Scott Roger and I got married at the old Wadsworth Shelter on October 1, 2011. We had what many of our friends and family still refer to as the most magical wedding ceremony ever.” Summit Metro Parks volunteer

Paul Schweigert met his wife Christine (pictured in the photo at the top of this story) online in 1999 and scheduled their first date at Firestone Metro Park in Akron. They later married at the park’s Coventry Oaks Lodge, where a Summit Metro Parks ranger made them honorary “junior rangers,” complete with badges. “Now, every year for the last 15, we have celebrated our anniversary with a dinner in the park. We hope to continue that tradition for many more years,” Paul shared.

The Hovan Family enjoys the Overlook Trail at Cascade Valle Metro Park.

The trails of Summit Metro Parks have even helped new businesses come to life. Local entrepreneurs Jon and Ali Hovan discovered the trails of Gorge Metro Park during the year-long renovation of their location in Cuyahoga Falls. “It was a time to relax, hike in peace and quiet, and a time for us to talk or come up with ideas for our new business.” Several years later, the Hovans still enjoy hiking the trails with their dog Stout and two children. “Whether hiking in the snow or sun, Summit Metro Parks offers beautiful trails to find nature and enjoy the outdoors,” they shared.

Perhaps your special memories are linked to events and programs hosted by the Metro Parks. Local resident Linda Knight completed the Fall Hiking Spree with her parents, grandparents and siblings for nearly 30 years and continues the tradition with one of her brothers to this day. “This fall he and I will have hiked the fall spree for 57 consecutive years. I have hiked the Spree for All since its inception in 2004. This year will mark 17 years for me. I have enjoyed watching the parks evolve over the last half century.”

Jim Nicholas has saved these mementos from School of the Woods, circa 1966.

We’ve even heard from those who participated in School of the Woods, an early version of what later became dozens of free, naturalist-led programs hosted by the park district each month. “In 1966, Mrs. Thomas, my third-grade teacher at Annunciation School, recommended me for the Akron Metropolitan Parks’ School of the Woods program. This week-long summer day camp was held at Seiberling School in Goodyear Heights,” shared Jim Nicholas. “A typical day included classroom activities and a bus trip to one of our local parks. I remember the trip to Seiberling Nature Center being a big deal.” Our community is what makes Summit Metro Parks so special and we want to hear from you!

Have the Metro Parks made an impact in your life? To tell us your Summit Metro Parks story, visit the centennial website. There you’ll find writing prompts and a sample story to get the creative juices flowing. You can even enter our Instagram contest to win prizes!

For more stories like this, check out Green Islands Magazine, a bi-monthly publication from Summit Metro Parks. Summit County residents can sign up to receive the publication at home free of charge.

Summit Metro Parks manages 14,000 acres, 16 parks and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at www.summitmetroparks.org.