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 [email protected]
1801 E. Florida Ave., Urbana
HISTORY AND FEATURES
This park bleeds into my childhood, as Lohmann Park is where the youth soccer program in Urbana took center stage. Back then, in the 80s — the cocaine fueled 80s — you could get to the pitch in one of two ways. You could drive to Florida Ave. — that’s Kirby Ave. to you Champaign yahoos — and just enter into the parking lot.
Or, you could take Colorado Ave. past the Service Liquor, which turned into a dirt road, and literally drive right up to the goddamned goals. That’s what we did. My parents drove a 1978 Plymouth Volaré, light blue, and built like a brick shithouse, and man, we took to that dirt road like it was the Fast and the Furious.
No we didn’t. We drove slow, and my Dad always said we were gonna ruin the car, and he was probably right.
Point being, the park is different now, with both Colorado and Florida Avenues developed and paved all the way to the park.
The park is different too, and in good ways! No longer is it just a patch of grass with goal posts and a playground. Here you can find a Frolf Course! Yes, that’s right, frisbee golf, which is super duper fun on 10mg of sativa.
Like, you can have yourself a time on weed playing frisbee golf. I once did it with my cousin who I don’t really like, but it was fun enough that I sorta liked him that day. Frolf! Not a bad way to spend a day with family you are unsure of, honestly.
And oh, what is this? Is that a long patch of astroturf in the middle of a random ass park in Urbana? It is! And what is this random ass patch of astroturf for, you ask?
It is for cricket! This is true. There are enough Indian ex-pats living in Champaign-Urbana that they’ve taken up space in this park, and the Urbana Park District has accommodated them. Look, cricket is a really awesome sport. I mean, it’s not baseball — nothing is baseball — but it is a really fun game to play, and to watch. And you can watch these folks play cricket on the weekends in Lohmann Park. You can even pull up a cooler of Claws and crush it while they do it. It is legal? No. Is it A-OK by the rules that the park district tells us? Absolutely not. But I believe living on the edge is a decent way to live, provided you aren’t putting anyone in danger. Choose a DD or walk yourself to Lohmann and have a day watching people you don’t likely know play cricket.
You cannot find this in a town in America. You can only find it in a city. And this is a city. Champaign-Urbana is a city, and I will literally fight anyone who argues with me about that. Are we going to come to blows? No, we are not, but I will verbally assault you with facts and evidence about what comprises a city versus a town. This is a city. Sit n’ spin, Chad. Sit n’ spin.
Lohmann Park is not a place where most people would spend any real time unless you were super baked and wanted to play Frolf or had a hankering to join a cricket league, honestly. That’s OK. Not every park is supposed to be a place where you’d picnic with your family and some friends, or go walk about for no good reason, unless it were close by.
In the end, this is not really a neighborhood park, although lots of people live nearby. It’s a good place to find solace, however. I love the patches of trees with decent canopy overhead. This spot in particular has grown from being a tiny little grove to sort of a big little grove. It’s a good place to spend time, frankly. I like it in here.
I love the memories I have of Adam “Bomb” (that was his known name, as a kid, I swear to God) kicking goals in from center field. I love the old space that has grown into itself.
I love that there is frolf and cricket here. When I went to visit and take photos, there was a fella by himself, teeing off the first hole, on a Tuesday afternoon, at 1:30 p.m. I didn’t speak to him, but I can tell you he was happy he was about to rip out 9 or 18 holes of Frolf. That’s the sort of thing that keeps people well.
Personally, I like online poker. It keeps me well. No no no, not the kind where you cash in and lose all your money in a weird lobby against people you don’t know. Just small buy in tourneys with friends.
We all need a distraction. Frolf and watching people play cricket are solid distractions. I am glad these things exist here.
Top image by Seth Fein.