South Bend's historic Howard Park reopens with major upgrades

NOW: South Bend’s historic Howard Park reopens with major upgrades

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - It's been a long time coming but the historic Howard Park in South Bend is now reopened.

The $18 million renovation includes a 16,000-foot ice trail, playground and even a restaurant that is set to open in spring.

Some residents tell ABC57 they remember the old park and skating at the old rink and say this is a great new chapter to bring life back to the first and oldest park in South Bend.

An ice bridge, ice paths, accessible playground all right next to a community center with a restaurant bar.

Hundreds of people came to see the grand opening celebration and they are excited about this new chapter.

“It’s amazing,” Breya Easton said.

“It’s fun, it’s really fun,” Caryn Dozier said. “I’m excited to go ice skating.”

“I think it is so amazing that they do this for kids so that they can 1, stay off the streets and don’t have to be doing stuff that they shouldn’t be doing and then it’s just nice to have something in south bend that we don’t already have,” Phyllis Johnson said.

“I think south bend needed this and it’ll be very nice for the families to come down and get active in the city,” Joann Gabrich said.

“This is the kind of place that you bring visitors to the city,” Gary Gabrich said. “Our grandkids,” Joann said back.

After community input and fundraising, their dream is now open for the public.

“The entire park is brand new this wasn’t just a couple of upgrades type thing, we basically scrapped the entire park,” Aaron Perri, the Executive Director of Venues Parks and Arts said.

The $18 million renovation gave this old park a new goal - to be one-of-a-kind.

“We’ve got fire pits, we’ve got 16,000 square feet of ice including a 14-ft wife trail that winds its way around the park with slight undulations you’ll skate uphill and downhill and over a bridge – the first place in the world you’ll skate over a bridge,” Perri said.

“I’m excited because it’s the first time I’m going to skate over an ice bridge,” Brian Boitano, Olympic gold medalist said.

It’s something new even for an Olympic gold medalist.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Boitano said.

Phyllis johnson

“it’s great that we’re finding new things to put south bend on the map.”

The park is now open and the skating rink will be open tomorrow. There will be events all winter starting tomorrow with Small Business Saturday. Click here for the details.

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