By Rose S. Prinzi
Do you remember Roseland Park? Do you remember the music from the skate shack, or the laughter of children hurrying to put on their skates? Mike Miller does. Rudy Miller, Mike’s dad, champion racer and barrel jumper, skated at Roseland. So did Orrie Hoover, famous for his stilts skating and fire hoop-jumping. The speed skating champions of the 1930s and 1940s, Bob Hanson, John Alm, T.G. Wilson, and Beatrice Freed, spent their youth at Roseland, too.
During the speed skating vogue of the 1940s, Roseland Park hosted the Great Lakes Skating Championships. Starting in 1942, hundreds attended. Skaters from as far away as Chicago and New England traveled here to “show their stuff” in competition.
Aspiring champions skated too—children from all over Jamestown came to Roseland after school. The older children shoveled off the snow to prepare the skating surface, while the younger ones struggled into their skates. The Chautauqua Lake Skating Association and the Morton Club sponsored skating meets.
In the 1950s, the Jamestown Softball Industrial League played “under the lights” at Roseland. Although those lights are no more, Roseland has been home field for many years to the Jamestown Babe Ruth League, T-Ball, and 7-8 year-old Rookie teams. The Midget Football North Side Warriors practice at Roseland, too.
For years and even today, Roseland is still a hub of activity. Every year from spring to fall, on any given evening, you’ll find young athletes using the well-groomed baseball field maintained through the years by the Jamestown Babe Ruth League.
But where do the younger siblings play while waiting for their older brothers and sisters to finish their games? Where do the neighborhood children go to have outdoor fun in a safe environment? Sadly, the play area of past years no longer exists. The equipment is outdated. The play area has fallen into disarray.
Paula Hofgren, a grandmother, would like to change that. Mrs. Hofgren, along with Jennifer Edens, co-chair a group called “Partners for Play”. The group is presently raising funds to support a new play area, based on new designs, replacing the now-eroding, fenced-in tennis courts. Support has come from a variety of unexpected sources. Jamestown’s own Natalie Merchant, former lead singer for 10,000 Maniacs, is one supporter. In addition to contributing generously to the playground fund, Ms. Merchant has provided personal memorabilia for sale to raise additional money.
The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation proudly supports this endeavor with a newly-established fund for this project entitled “Roseland Park Playground Project Fund”.
So, if you enjoyed playing tennis, or North Side Midget Football, or Babe Ruth Baseball, or if you played in the old Softball Industrial League under the Roseland Park lights, you might like to help, too. With your help, our children and future generations can enjoy a revitalized Roseland Park.
For more information about this project, please call the Foundation at 661-3390.