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Lakeside Heritage Trail
7. Lake/ Central Park
Lakefront between Maple Ave. and Kenton Row
Central Park Playground circa 1956
Grindley Playground 2022
First known as Lake Park, and later Central Park, this lakefront spot has been a destination for reflection and recreation since the founding of Lakeside in 1873. In Lakeside’s formative years, the Lakeside Camp Meeting Association held camp meetings in the park. The camp meetings were later moved to the current locations of Hoover Auditorium and South Auditorium.
The park slowly changed to an area dedicated to recreation, entertainment and family picnics. The old speaker and band platform was replaced by a more sophisticated gazebo, which from 1916 to 1962, hosted daily concerts. As the park continued to evolve, the bandstand was removed, but music again returned with the construction of the Steele Memorial Bandstand in 1979.
Croquet was the first sport played in Central Park. Roque was added in 1909 and Lakeside later won a National Roque Championship in 1939. Over the years, the popularity of various sports rose and waned. The sounds of basketballs and horseshoes replaced the clack of croquet and Roque balls. Swing sets and slides as well and a fenced children’s play area were erected as part of a community commitment to outdoor unstructured play. A miniature golf course was added in 1963. Shuffleboard has been an enduring activity for generations of Lakesiders and guests from near and far. The 26 courts are among the best in the world, having hosted local, state, national and international championship tournaments.
Lakeside’s commitment to wellness and recreation has continued to grow over the decades with the addition of several other community park areas, a sailing and paddle board center, the Williams Tennis Campus, the Grindley Aquatic and Wellness Center and the Hubbard Pickle Ball Center.
As growth continues, the shining jewel of family fun remains this central waterfront park. The outdoor grills and picnic tables are in constant use. The bandstand hosts a widening variety of events throughout the week; from vespers and concerts to wild life lectures and weddings. The children’s playground has been redesigned and updated with a gift from the Grindley family. In 2018, Central Park was renamed Bettinger Park in memory of long time Lakesiders, Donald and Coralen Bettinger. The basketball courts have been upgraded, and a sand volleyball court adds to the mix of the many park activities. Annual events that include the Plein Air wet paint sale and pond boat building are also held here.