The WIA has always been the heart of the community’s summer life. It is where our parades begin, birders gather and dancing, music and theatre happen.
It also fronts the path that takes thousands of visitors to the boardwalk and Ward’s Beach each year. But over years the space around this historic clubhouse seriously deteriorated, with cracked sidewalks, uneven ground and on the city’s side of the path, broken glass and garbage from the weekly garbage collection.
In the winter of 2010 we dreamed of transforming this space into something beautiful and celebratory – and then we asked you to help us realize that dream.
And you did, in numbers greater than we could have ever imagined. More than 175 people and several organizations and corporations have helped create this Willow Square. An amazing community effort.
Thank you, everyone – pebblers, gardeners, builders and donors – you made it happen.
We owe a special thanks to Maggy Howarth who taught us how to make pebble mosaics. And to Warren Hoselton and his City Parks staff who never said “no”.
We now have a beautiful space where people can gather for events or sit and reflect looking at the gardens or just eat an ice cream cone sitting with friends on the armour stones. Over time there will be more plants, new benches, a water fountain, bulletin board. The Victorian Landing Stage is currently being restored, and will be installed in early summer, connecting us back to the early years of the Ward's tent community.
But that’s for the future – for now we declare Willow Square officially open.
Kathleen Doody, Jerry Englar and Penny Lawler
Photo by Sean Tamblyn