It's nearly here!
After being closed for almost two years, Raleigh's Pullen Park will reopen at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The park, including the much missed carousel, train and kiddie boat rides, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
Crews are working overtime to get the park ready for this weekend. Park fans will notice some major changes that are part of the $6.3 million project.
Among them: A new indoor carousel house will protect the historic carousel and allow it to be open all year. The kiddie boats got a new coat of paint and were brought up to code. There's a new train depot and a special train car designed for wheelchairs. A new amphitheater will host concerts and programs. And the large, new playground includes sand and water features, climbing structures, lots of swings, a special section for preschoolers and more.
Check the box to the left for Go Ask Mom's Pullen Park coverage, including an image gallery of photos from the past and today.
The grand opening is expected to draw thousands of people to the park. Here's what you need to know if you're going to go:
1. Get there early! Many people will be heading to the park after the WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade, which starts at 9:40 a.m. and wraps up around noon. If you're watching the parade from Hillsborough Street and don't mind a bit of a walk, you can easily walk down Ashe Avenue to Pullen Park. If the Christmas Parade isn't part of your family's annual holiday tradition, I'd get to Pullen as close to 10 a.m. as you can so you can beat the crowds. Pullen Park is located at 520 Ashe Ave. and borders Western Boulevard.
2. Park at the Dorothea Dix Soccer Park, 75 Hunt Dr., across Western Boulevard from Pullen Park. Starting at noon on Saturday, the city will offer a free shuttle between the soccer fields and the park. Parking is limited at Pullen. This could save you some headaches.
3. Bring an empty stomach. The new Pullen Place cafe will be open during park hours with a scaled back menu for opening weekend. As I wrote earlier this week, you'll find hot dogs and chips, plus healthier items made with locally grown and made ingredients. Pullen Place will be selling its food from the cafe, which is in the same spot as the park's old concession stand. You'll also find satellite locations near the train, by the playgrounds, across from the carousel and at the pond gazebo. (My guess is that the pond gazebo will be the least busy of them all). You also are welcome to bring your own food.
4. It still costs just $1 per person to ride the rides. The city also tells me that they will accept unused ride tickets if you still have some from before the park closed. You will be able to purchase tickets for the rides at the new Welcome Center, which is the large green building that sits in the same spot as the old ticket booth. There also is a ticket booth at the new carousel building.
5. Be prepared for souvenir requests from the kids. The park now sells souvenirs, such as T-shirts and other items.
6. Know where to go: The restrooms are now in the Welcome Center and in the green building between the carousel and the playground area. The old restrooms were razed.
7. Know the schedule. The city isn't planning any special activities from 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Saturday other than opening up the park and rides to the public. The official dedication ceremony and entertainment starts at 2 p.m. If you're there at 5 p.m., I'd definitely catch Mommie, a fun band for kids and families that includes singer Doug MacMillan of The Connells.
Here is the official schedule for Saturday:
10:00 a.m.: Park opens
Noon: Shuttles begin from Dix soccer fields
On Pullen Park main stage
1:45 p.m.: Raleigh Police Department Color Guard
1:55 p.m.: National anthem by Jasmin Sessoms
2 p.m. Pullen Park dedication begins
Welcome by Diane Sauer, director of the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department, followed by an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
3 p.m.: Raleigh Concert Band
5 p.m.: Mommie
Pullen Park Children’s Amphitheatre
3 p.m.: Nature programs
4 p.m.: Carpe Diem Saxophone Quartet
5 p.m.: The Southern String Band
The day also will include roving entertainment from Bennie the Clown and a magician.
6 p.m.: Park closes
Of course, you could always skip the crowds this weekend and check out Pullen Park in the coming weeks. After this weekend, the park will be open daily from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Those hours will change with the seasons. It could be open as late as 10 p.m. in the summer.
I'll see you there!