Kenwick Park being brought back to dancehall glory days

Kenwick Beach is a popular summer swimming spot and now Kenwick Park, across the road, is being renewed by a group of community volunteers and a TVO renovation show called Giver.

Kenwick Beach is a popular summer swimming spot and now Kenwick Park, across the road, is being renewed by a group of community volunteers and a TVO renovation show called Giver.

Ken Stother is hoping an excited group of volunteers will be putting the shine back on the “diamond in the rough” that is Kenwick Park.

The Bright’s Grove park on Lake Huron is a popular spot for swimmers, but it was once the summer hotspot of the area.

“Back in 1946 and in the 50s and 60s it was Kenwick on the Lake and it was a big dance pavilion, outdoor, open air and there was as many as two to three thousand people there to hear people like Guy Lombardo and Louis Armstrong and Les Brown, Bill Haley and the Comets and Alice Cooper; some of us can still remember going to the open dance floor,” says Stother. But it fell on hard times.

“In the 50s, the tornado blew away part of the pavilion, in the 60s there was a fire; now, it is sort of a rundown park.”

But Bright’s Grove residents wanted something more. A group of eight people formed a committee and started getting donations to revamp the park. There was $50,000 from the Seaway Kiwanis and another $25,000 from an anonymous donor.

“Then we approached TVO Giver playground makeover…over the winter and they’re putting $10,000 in the pot and they’re bring the playground equipment all prefabricated,” says Stother.

Up to 40 volunteers were slated to help over the last three days including firefighters and members of local labour unions. “I can’t believe all the people who have come out to help.”

The renovation will not only include the new playground equipment but a gazebo for summer music, a new basketball court, refurbishment of the tennis court and new benches for people to sit and watch the sunset over Lake Huron. Next year, the City of Sarnia plans to replace the washrooms and change areas.

And Stother says they plan to bring music back to the park in the form of Sunday Evening “quiet” concerts.

“People will be able bring their lawn chairs and sit and listen to the concert and watch the sunset or they can get up and dance on the old pavilion floor.”

– Heather Wright

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