In the history of Fuquay-Varina, Falcon Park isn't just any park.
Back in the 1950s, when the small town wasn't among the fastest growing in the state, the community got together because it needed a place for kids to play. Town residents pitched in to raise the money and build the buildings. The park opened in spring 1953. By the end of the summer, it was so popular, officials had to put together a reservation system.
Fast forward several decades and the park has been the scene of many milestones - engagements, weddings, first playground visits, first hits or home runs. The well-loved park also had suffered plenty of wear and tear. For the past few years, town officials have been at work to make over the place.
This month, after being closed for a year, the park reopened, featuring a new playground, updated picnic shelter, new restrooms and concession building, a new performance lawn and some paved trails. Set amid tall trees and shady places, the park is again a welcoming place for families and friends. It's an ideal small town park.
Jonathan Cox, the town's parks, recreation and cultural resources director, and Susan Weis, the town's communication director, gave me a quick tour of the park this week.
Cox tells me the public won't see some of the big improvements - piping and other work underground that will keep stormwater from flooding and pooling in the park. Park goers also will love to see the new building with public restrooms and concessions. Weis tells me that a replace for the original 1950s building was a top request among residents.
Other improvements include the renovation and expansion of the Hut, a building that's available for reservations; a new roof for the picnic shelter; the new performance lawn, which is hosting a Saturday night movie series this month and possible future concerts; paved trails that are perfect for scooters and beginning bike riders; and that new playground.
The playground features some standard play amenities - slides; belt and bucket swings; and stairs for climbing up and down. But there also are some newer twists on playground equipment that allow for more creative play and opportunities for kids to build their upper body strength. They include rope climbers; spinners; and other innovative climbers and steppers. (Check the quick video tour of the playground for a closer look).
The park opened back up in early September. This week, by 10 a.m. on day, it was busy with kids and their adults, running, playing and laughing.
Falcon Park sits at 105 Falcon Dr. in Fuquay-Varina. This is the latest Fuquay-Varina park to get an upgrade. The town opened a new splash pad at its South Park earlier this year. It's open through Sept. 26 this year.