Newly renovated Pullen Park in Raleigh worth the wait

Posted November 19, 2011

New conductors learn to drive the train at Pullen Park on Nov. 9.

— After two years and about $6 million in renovations, the ever popular, century-old Pullen Park in Raleigh reopened Saturday with a new train station, entrance, event spaces, picnic shelters, shelter for the historic carousel and playgrounds. 

Pam Aycock brought her daughter and grandchildren to the reopening ceremony and ribbon cutting at 2 p.m., and couldn't help taking a stroll down memory lane.

"I was just telling my daughter that I came here when I was a little girl," Aycock said. "My mother worked for the phone company and they used to have their company picnic here."

Kristen Wofford said she loves being able to share Pullen Park with her children.

"I have vivid memories of being here as a child, looking back at pictures," she said. "I am excited about them being able to experience it as well."

Lake Howell was drained and dredged in 2001 to allow the city to install a geothermal energy system. The system uses heat from the ground to warm water that helps heat and cool the carousel building.

The renovations took months longer than expected, with several construction delays, but visitors said it was worth the wait.

"I really like it. I mean, it's wonderful," Madison Beasley said.

Philip Stocks agreed.

"It's so nice. I can't say enough about it. They've done such an awesome job," he said.

Wofford said she plans to visit the park again with her children soon.

"We are so excited," she said. "We'll be back for sure." 

More than 1 million people visited the park in 2009, and 500,000 rode the carousel, miniature train and other rides.

Pullen Park is the 91st most visited park in the United States, according to the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence.


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  • ezLikeSundayMorning Nov 22, 2011

    And apparrently they took in $500K in 2009. It doesn't take too many years to pay for itself which is just a bonus because it's worth it at the whole $6mil.

  • Dee from the forest Nov 21, 2011

    Cry babies! Complain, complain, complain...doesn't anyone ever have anything nice to say?

  • Chairman of the Bored Nov 21, 2011

    "160 million. Waste of money. How many hungry mouths will that feed?" -buick8dds

    It was $6 million and well worth every dime that the citizens of Raleigh overwhelmingly (70%) voted in favor of.

  • dwntwnboy Nov 21, 2011

    "160 million"- try reading again, it was "only" $6 million and was needed and passed back when the economy was going great. Was a small price to keep this gem of downtown in good working order and make it better for everyone.

  • CherryPicker Nov 21, 2011

    160 million. Waste of money. How many hungry mouths will that feed?

  • bill0 Nov 21, 2011

    They really did a good job with the major projects, but my 2 year old daughter liked the play structures the best. Fine by me - that is the free part!

    The crowds were pretty big, so anyone looking for a relaxing day at the park would have been wise to wait a week or two, but it was still fun. There were literally thousands of kids running around and they all seemed to love it. Good job Raleigh!

  • dwntwnboy Nov 21, 2011

    The crowds over the weekend were HUGE at the park. Could hardly get home through the traffic and all the cars parked everywhere. Raleigh PD could have done a better job of directing traffic to parking areas rather than let people park willy nilly in the medians and along both sides of the street. Other than that, GREAT to see the park open again.