Park official says contest’s payoff was better than money

EAST LIVERPOOL – Although Thompson Park was not the $100,000 grant winner in a recent America’s Favorite Park contest, Superintendent J.C. Blackhurst said the community won much more than money by competing.

The local park came in fourth in the contest sponsored by the Coca-Cola Corp., which did not result in a monetary prize, but Blackhurst said, “Out of over 12,000 parks, we finished fourth place nationwide, and that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment.”

The winner of the contest was Veterans Memorial Park in Moore, Okla., which garnered more than 400,000 votes. It will use the $100,000 recreation grant to rebuild a playground destroyed by a tornado.

The Oklahoma park gained considerable headway when other previous grant winners whose parks had also been damaged by natural disasters rallied around it, organizing voting drives and arranging for celebrities to encourage voting.

Blackhurst said much of the feedback he has received expressed disappointment in Thompson Park coming up short, and he said, “I can understand those feelings if you think of it only from a money standpoint.”

He continued, “This was about getting the community involved and united. It was much more than about the money, and with that in mind, we absolutely succeeded.”

With tens of thousands of votes made daily by not only city residents but former residents and even those with no connection to the city, Blackhurst commended those who made the effort and supported the park.

“The bonds we all created, the friendships that were reconnected, the community joining together is all more important than the money,” he said.