As Year of the Park continues, we will be documenting every park in Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy, Champaign County Forest Preserves, along with other odds and ends between July 2020 and more like August or September 2021. You can see what has been covered thus far by clicking here. If you have suggestions or ideas or feedback, feel free to contact us at info@smilepolitely.com.

NAME

Clark Park 

LOCATION

900 S. McKinley Ave, Champaign


HISTORY AND FEATURES

Oh my lord, I love Clark Park so much! It is simply perfect, as far as I am concerned. There's are very nice tennis courts, with a Pickle Ball option; there is a small but formidable full court basketball court; there is an excellent children's playground with a huge sandbox filled with literally dozens and dozens of toy dozers and diggers for kids to get dirty with; there is a rock garden, for you stoners out there; there are old growth trees to sit under; there is GaGa Ball, which I don't really care to research, because frankly, you and I are not going to play GaGa Ball. I mean, for real, are you going to call Carl or Jimmy or Cassandra and be all like "Meet me at Clark Park to play GaGa Ball?" 

No, you are not going to do that. You are a person of self worth, and you are not going to subject yourself or your friends to this sort of thing. GaGa Ball. I don't even want to google search it to find out more about it. Please, if someone reading this plays GaGa Ball, email me and convince me about the reasons why. It's enough with the made up sports ball games already. That expired in 1945 when Russia defeated the Nazis and we took credit for it. 

dozens of toy diggers and dozers sit in a huge sandbox Photo by Tim Bailey. 

But that is beside the point: Clark Park is a Top Ten Park in Champaign-Urbana, and it has been serving the neighborhood that sits next to the Champaign Country Club for 111 years. 

There is a lovely rock garden named in honor of Debbie Lynn Everette, and I know that because the Champaign Park District has a whole page dedicated to it. More of this please! 

the sign for everette memorial garden next to massive rocks Photo by Tim Bailey. 

Yes, the park is great, and yes, the houses and property value around it make it so, but without diving into a discussion about taxation and representation, let's just take a moment to appreciate the fact that it is available to you and I at any time, regardless if we live in the neighborhood or not. 

There is ample street parking, never a challenge to pull up and be inside of it. So my advice is to drive (or bike!) over and enjoy it as often as you wish. It's big enough to accommodate plenty, and small enough to be able to feel tucked and cozy. 

ASSESSMENT

This is a really damn good park. I know I tend to nitpick about X and Y and Z and inject commentary about things like racial injustice and our educational system, and sometimes people get upset about that and try to engage me in arguments on Facebook. I know that it can be hard to hear that things aren't as peachy as they seem. I deal with it all the time. 

a children's playground in a parkPhoto by Tim Bailey. 

But Clark Park is truly as good as it seems. My boys absolutely love the playground. It's a fun one! So, regardless if you have kiddos to care for or not, if you haven't been before, feel free to check it out and see why. There's something perfect about the place. Like I stated above, it's small and so you feel like it's a secret. But it's big enough that you can spread out. There are always kind people to talk to, and there are always people playing sports, or reading a book, or just... laying on the ground and thinking about... LIFE. 

I have done that at various times too. Sometimes, you need a park to just lay down in, and Clark Park is that park for me. 

Top image by Tim Bailey.