STEUBENVILLE - They grew up in Beatty Park, spending hours in the pool and enjoying adventures on the wooded hillsides and the creek that meanders through the park.
Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich and 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto visit the city's oldest park on a regular basis and now hope a "Get Re-Acquainted with Beatty Park" event will bring new life and more visitors to the nature park.
"This isn't a park with a swimming pool anymore. You don't come here to play baseball. There is a disc golf course, a basketball court and swing sets. But this is a great park to walk the trails, have a picnic and a great place to relax. This is a very peaceful park," observed Lalich.
WHEN WE PLAYED IN THE CREEK — Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich, left, shows his granddaughter Sofia Lalich where he used to look for crawdads in the Beatty Park creek, while 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto listened. Lalich and DiLoreto have organized a free picnic from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the first shelter in Beatty Park to attract visitors to the park.
-- Dave Gossett
Lalich will join his City Council colleagues from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to offer free hot dogs, chips, pop and water to visitors to Beatty Park.
"We will be at the first shelter and are inviting all city residents to join us and get to know Beatty Park again," said Lalich.
Lalich grew up on South Sixth Street and spent hours in "old Beatty Park pool. I always participated in the Fourth of July water show where we would do flips and tricks off the diving board.
"I went swimming every day of the week. The pool opened at noon, and I would stay here all day."
"I remember there was a cave up on the hillside where we had a rope swing. We would use that rope and swing out over the roadway. On Halloween a bunch of us would get flashlights and walk in the dark from the park entrance to the Union Cemetery just to scare ourselves," laughed Lalich.
"And my family would have a picnic here every Sunday afternoon. We would usually have about 20 family members here every week. We would play in the creek, look for crawdads and climb the hills. We had an imagination and we had adventures in the park," Lalich recalled.
"Now I bring my 3-year-old granddaughter Sofia to the park on a regular basis. We look for crawdads in the creek and swing on the swings," noted Lalich.
DiLoreto said Beatty Park was the main recreation area for himself and all of the other South End children.
"We went swimming during the day and sometimes a bunch of us went night swimming in the old pool until we were chased away. I can never remember a police cruiser coming to the park for any problems. No one ever vandalized the park because it was our park," stated DiLoreto.
"We had playground teachers who would hand out bats, balls and board games and we took care of them because if a toy was broken, that was it for the summer. Later on I got a job with the city as an assistant at Beatty Park. I picked up litter, cleaned the restrooms and swept the concrete bleachers at the old pool," he said.
"Beatty Park will never be the same as it was when we were kids. But I am glad people are using the park again," DiLoreto added.
According to the Herald-Star, the city's South End park officially opened on June 24, 1931, with two parades, hundreds of children "and a long line of automobiles carrying officials and representatives of civic and business groups."
Regulations posted at the park in the 1930s prohibited profane language, picking flowers, building fires without permission, scattering papers and rubbish, dogs not on leashes, bicycle riding, card playing and gambling, persons in bathing suits outside of the pool, hunting or trapping or horseback riding.
Children under 12 years of age swam for free. The admission price for children under age 18 was 10 cents, while adults were charged 20 cents a day at the pool.
Mark Nelson of Steubenville recently returned to Beatty Park after a 22-year absence.
"My daughter kept urging us to take a hike in the park, so one Sunday afternoon several families walked the trails and saw how beautiful and peaceful the park and the nature trails are these days," Nelson explained.
He has volunteered with his children to help clean the trails throughout the park.
"A lot of credit is due to the Beatty Park Disc Golf Association and to Jody Glaub. The disc golf group has brought people into the park to play, and Jody Glaub created the nonprofit foundation and has urged people to contribute to the beautification of the park. Through his efforts the entrance to the park has been cleaned up," cited Nelson.
"Beatty Park is a great place for individuals and families to take a walk to enjoy the scenery and the nature in the park," said Nelson.
Lalich said he has met a couple who drives from the Pittsburgh area once a month just to take a walk on the park trails.
"This has always been a great park.
"It is one of Steubenville's hidden treasures," commented Lalich.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)