Royal Giants Park celebrates grand reopening in East Spencer

Published 12:06 am Sunday, May 15, 2022

Elisabeth Strillacci

EAST SPENCER — The massive, water-filled baseball tipped ever so slightly forward, paused, then rotated down, splashing gallons of water over the heads of eagerly waiting children, celebrating the grand re-opening of Royal Giants Park, including an intricate splash pad.

The park had to close in mid-2019 due to COVID restrictions, but it gave the town time to complete some renovations it had been working on since 2016.

Town Manager Michael Douglas said the park is a central figure in the town for residents, and has been for  years, so it seemed appropriate that they make re-opening day a big celebration.

In addition to the splash pad, there were bounce houses, food vendors, a DJ and even a three-on-three basketball tournament. Douglas was on a team that made it to the finals. There were 10 teams to sign up, according to Andrew Mitchell Jr., who was director of parks for years and is still assistant coach for the girls’ basketball team at Salisbury High School.

“Michael asked me to organize this because he knows how much I love three-on-three games, and I was glad to do it,” Mitchell said. “We set up categories for middle school, high school, adult and over 50 teams, and initially we planned to charge an entry fee in order to give cash awards, but we realized for some, an entry fee would make it out of reach, so we changed it up and made it free to play.” 

Renovations and improvements to the park, along with the water area, were improvements to playing fields, restroom facilities and a walking path.

Groups of residents gathered around the courts to watch basketball games, while others supervised children squealing and dancing through the water at the splash pad. Still more stood outside two bounce houses, just to be sure all went well among children bouncing, sometimes uncontrollably, inside.

Keya Ruston Stitt said she thought the children in her family had “bounced themselves out,” laughing. “I’m so glad we still have this park, and that they have done so much great work on it.” She said not only did she walk to the park to meet friends as a child and a teenager, but her mother did as well. Her mother, Jill Burch, nodded agreement.

“Mom did, I did, my nieces and nephews walked here and now their children walk here,” she said. “It’s one of those places you feel like your kids will be safe. So I am very glad it is still here.” Stitt was at the park with members of the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic group that is a sister organization to Masons. She said they had a business meeting early in the afternoon, then all decided to gather up their collective children and head to the park.

“This town is already tight knit,” she said. “Everybody knows everybody. And this park is an institution for our community. It’s a gathering place.”

“It is a good thing for us,” agreed Board of Aldermen member Delores High, who has served on the board for 14 years. “It is so good to see it finally come to fruition after having to put it off for a while. I’m glad to be here.”

Douglas said he couldn’t be sure how many came to the event, which ran for six hours, but said he’d be willing to say closer to 1,000 than 500, since people were coming and going throughout the day.

“But the number doesn’t matter,” he said. “I can see the community is here, that they have come out to celebrate and enjoy this park, and that is what matters.”