BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
As parks across the city are now open with families visiting on a regular basis, there is one new addition to Depot Park.
On top of the playscape at Depot Park, the Optimist International logo is now part of the scenery. The playscape was installed last summer and the Clarkston Optimists Club has donated significant money and sweat equity to make Depot Park what it is today, in keeping with Optimists’ support of children.
“We are so thankful to the Clarkston Optimist Club for their generous support of Depot Park and the children in our community,” said Clarkston Mayor Eric Haven.
The Clarkston City Council recognized the Optimists’ contributions to Depot Park in its virtual meeting on June 8 and in that meeting, authorized proceeding with the installation of this commemorative logo on the playscape.
“It’s hard for me to express the joy I feel when the kids run into the playground,” said Optimist Club member Ken Ermer. “Their eyes are open with excitement as they crawl around the geo climber, swing on the tire swing, and slide on the big green structure. Seeing their joy, even if for a few seconds, makes sure all the hard work we put into installing new playground equipment very worthwhile.”
Longtime Optimist member Tom Lowrie said seeing the club’s hard work pay off for the kids is what it’s all about.
“I can go back at least four generations in Clarkston,” said Lowrie. “My great-grandfather Benjamin Delislie was the pharmacist in Clarkston and Davisburg via horse and buggy. Even though life was much simpler then, I can’t imagine what activities were available for the youth at the time. We have such a gem in the village that even Henry Ford, who dredged the millrace, could not have visualized the youth that utilizes our park. Proms, weddings, art fairs, yoga, geocaching, ice skating, picnicking, as well as the playground are just a few of the activities that go on.
“Let’s face it, our legacy is really what the generations do after we are gone. It’s so important to protect this park. I only wish I had a million dollars to put into and maintain it.”
Lowrie added while COVID-19 has canceled many Optimist events, one that has gone on is the Flags for Kids fundraiser.
“During Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, 9/11, and Veterans Day, the Optimists set up flags for those that requested and paid a rental fee of $40 per season,” explained Lowrie. “We have raised over $7,500. That goes back towards our youth.”
Optimist Club President Rob Whitcomb said the group is planning a free event for the late spring of 2021 that will be free to the public and will include children’s activities, concerts, food and beverage.
The Optimist Club is a major sponsor of the Independence Day parade, which unfortunately was canceled due to the restrictions placed on gatherings.
“We look forward to a bigger and better parade next year,” Whitcomb said. “And we also look forward to participating in late summer and fall events in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce.”
Wednesday morning membership meetings have traditionally been held at the Clarkston United Methodist Church at 7:30 a.m., but due to the governor’s executive order of safe distancing practices a result of COVID-19 and the availability of the meeting location, until further notice, club meetings and committee meetings are being scheduled on Zoom.
Next meetings are July 8, July 15, and July 22.