Smile Politely

Year of the Park, A to Z: Zahnd Park, Champaign

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 July 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].


Zahnd Park 


2502 S Staley Rd, Champaign, IL 61822

A wooden sign that says Zahnd Park

Photo by Maddie Rice. 


The Zahnd family really ponied up here, and truly helped change the landscape of this part of Champaign, which in 2020, looks a lot different than it did in 1994 when it was founded. Heck, 1994 was a lot different than 2020 in general. I mean, sheesh, the internet was sort of a weird space you thought you’d heard about when you were playing on the PLATO computers in Campustown; the idea that there was a stand alone McDonald’s on Green St. between Sixth and Wright is just wild. Mortal Kombat was dominating at SpacePort. There were six damn record stores in a four block radius: Rose Records, Streetside Records, Record Service, Record Swap, Discount Den, and… shit, someone call Jeff Brandt from Exile on Main St. I can’t remember the other one. It was something. 

Anyhow, this park is on the edge of the city, and it’s a nice one. I have watched Little League team win City Championships in the heart of the summer heat. There is an American football field to go kick field goals through, if that is your thing. What? You’ve never tried to kick a field goal? Well, you should! It is an incredible feeling, and helps you to appreciate just how hard it is with tens of thousands of people watching every weekend. 

people playing on a football field with goalposts

Photo by Maddie Rice. 


Zahnd Park is a lovely place, all things considered. You can read more about it in an article published by the awesome folks at, people we love and cherish in ways you cannot truly understand. 

The Stephens Family YMCA is essentially on site, so if you are fortunate enough to be a member there due to your financial standing or your proximity to it, I’d argue there’s a lot you can do to keep fit both inside and outside around these parts. Just try to manage these modern monkey bar things; your pectorals will be glad for it! 

playground equipment, viewed from beneath monkey bars/swings of sorts

Photo by Maddie Rice. 

There’s a nice walking path, and it connects to Carle at the Fields, which is not something I am going to talk about here, because it will just make me angry. Let’s focus on the fact that if you are not well, or if you need to be out that way, there’s a very long and robust trail of 2.4 miles awaiting you for an incredibly long stroll against the backdrop of the American Middle West. It will lead you right to the park, and you can run free, like a gazelle or some sort of amazing dinosaur that may or may not have existed in this part of the world. 

Top image by Maddie Rice. 

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