INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For this week’s Your Town Friday we’re visiting a park, but the park is almost like a town in itself.
Right along West 56th Street in Indianapolis is one of the biggest city parks in the country.
And if you think Eagle Creek Park is best enjoyed in summertime, maybe Dawn VanDeman will change your mind!
“I love this park and I love what we do,” Dawn told us.
Dawn admits she fell hard for the beauty of Eagle Creek Park as a volunteer in the mid-90’s. She worked her way up to manager of the Earth Discovery Center.
“The thing that amazes me is, even though I come here every day because I work here, there is always something new.”
“It’s just so important to have that nature so close to the city for mental health and for physical health,” Dawn continued. “We’re finding out more and more how important it is to have access to that. So it’s really quite a treasure to have all this just a couple minutes away from downtown.”
You might not think now is the time to enjoy the park, but Dawn suggest giving winter a chance.
“If you bundle up and get out, it’s really quite as much fun as being out here in our busier times. You just have more of the park to yourself!”
Dawn says the bird watching is great this time of year.
“If you’re out here at the right time and right place, you’ll see eagles fly over which is always a thrill no matter how many times you get to see it.”
Eagle Creek Park used to be home to many of central Indiana’s wealthiest residents in the early to mid 1900’s.
J.K. Lilly Jr., of the Lilly Pharmaceuticals family, bought 12 acres in 1934 and built Eagle Crest Estate. Over the next 20 years he acquired more land and reforested.
Lilly donated it to Purdue University in 1958.
Eight years later, the City of Indianapolis bought the land from Purdue for $3.2 million and Mayor Richard Lugar officially opened Eagle Creek Park in 1972.
Dawn says she’s proud of how they continue to grow and add programs and fun activities, but never disrupt the peace in the park.
“I feel like I’m helping people connect with all of this amazing stuff out here,” said Dawn. “So if you feel like life’s just getting a little bit routine, same ‘ol thing, if you come out to Eagle Creek Park there’s usually some sort of amazing surprise or experience.”
More than 200 volunteers keep the park going and the Eagle Creek Park Foundation helps with finances.
Looking ahead to summer, Eagle Creek is already scheduling for summer day camps and hiring summer staff!
They are looking for lifeguards, counselors, cashiers and more. Click here for the job postings.
And if you want to take a look at all Eagle Creek has to offer, check out the programs and schedule here.