Over the past ten days the Lilac Festival has taken over Highland Park in my neighborhood. On Sunday I ran the Lilac Festival 5K and 10K: the 5K with a friend at a lower pace and the 10K for myself. It was a lovely day, warm but not hot, the kind of day we only seem to have three to five of here in western New York.
The next morning I did a normal run, by myself and taking my time, through Highland Park. It is a lovely park, designed by a guy called Olmsted (of Central Park fame) who really gave serious thought to how and why city people should make use of parks and green places. As a runner and a city-dweller, I’ve always been lucky enough to live near a park.
This dramatic staircase at the entrance to Highland Park is fun way to get some hill training in an environment that is only a few steps from a busy road but feels like a completely different place.
As I ran through the park I encountered the detritus of the Festival. Some folks who live in the Park neighborhood complain about the Festival: crowds, mess, more traffic and rowdy folks coming back from the Beer Tent. I can understand that, but to me the inconvenience is a small price to pay for having the Park in our backyards the other fifty weeks of the year.
To me, these green spaces in our cities are meant to be used, and sometimes that means they will get messy and loud. Parks can serve many functions, but as long as they are returned to their original state as oases to nature in our cities I think we are lucky to have them nearby.