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]

NAME

Prairie Park 

LOCATION

2000 E. Washington Ave., Urbana

letters that spell out Urbana are affixed to a chain link fence at a baseball diamondPhoto by Maddie Rice. 

HISTORY AND FEATURES

Established in 1967, this park is home to twenty acres of mostly wide open fields, save for a few youth soccer pitches and a couple baseball diamonds. That's OK, though. Primarily, it is a park space for Preston Williams Elementary School, which used to be called Prairie a decade or so back. 

There's a hill that overlooks the Urbana High School baseball diamond, and it's a good spot to watch a ball game if you don't mind sitting in grass and allowing the swamp bugs to eat you up a bit. The vantage point is a good one for watching the whole team work together in the field. 

a path is mowed into a small hill Photo by Maddie Rice. 

And what's that? Real dirt in the infield? And on the pitchers mound and in the batter's box? Never change Urbana. Never change. 

ASSESSMENT

There's not much to adore about Prairie Park honestly. It's got some real nice climbing trees, and it plays host to the post-Labor Day Parade party where the unions all come together and buy a bunch of kegs and let anyone who supports them drink it down while a cover band plays classic rock hits. You can eat a bratwurst and see all types of folks who seem to understand that the idea of a union is rooted in smart execution for laborers everywhere. 

The 2021 Parade is still unconfirmed according to our friend at Chamabanamoms. They know all when it comes to this. Stay tuned. 

trees in bloom in Prairie Park Photo by Maddie Rice. 

Most of Urbana's parks have a bit more to the story than this one does, but considering its location and its utility, it is no surprise that it's light on amenities. Not every park can be Crystal Lake or Meadowbrook, and this one is perfectly normal, albeit fairly forgettable. You wouldn't come here to hang out probably unless you had a friend living close and wanted a spot to wander around for a while. 

At sunset, perching yourself on that hill while the sun goes down and the lights go up on the field is a pretty nice way to end a day. 

Top image by Maddie Rice.