Take a stroll with us if you will. Explore Neenah on foot with the High School students of teacher Tara Meinke’s class in the Arete program. We will be exploring the community with these students and seeing Neenah through their eyes in “Walking Neenah.”
Walking Doty Park
Every child who grows up in their hometown always remembers one specific spot in their town where they would spend their sunny summer afternoons. No matter where you live, whether it is in a small town or a thriving metropolitan area, everyone has their one special spot, their one slice of heaven, their one private retreat. Let me take you to my little slice of heaven.
As I turn off the sidewalk and feel the familiar worn texture of the path leading into the park, my nose fills with the sweat smells of summer. I have walked past the historic Doty Cabin, which greets you as you walk into the park like the embrace of an old friend, many times. I continue on the winding and worn concrete paths of Doty Park, just as I have hundreds of times before. The memories of the past warm summer days I have spent running through the grass or playing on the playground with my friends fill my head.
This place has always been a special place to me. I feel the embrace of the towering trees that fill the park as I stroll under them every time I adventure there. The gentle lake breeze brushes across my face like the soft touch of a mother’s hand. As I cross the old stone bridge, reaching over the small channel that runs through the park, I greet the small Island that is home to the old wooden gazebo. The gazebo is a place where countless couples have sat and talked the hours away or have taken pictures of their smiling faces for their wedding day.
I hear swaying of the trees and the gentle sounds of the lake against the shore. The chirping of the birds blissfully fills the park singing their songs of summer like a silent choir. I continue on the worn path passing the gazebo and walking the old path looping to the next stone bridge. I walk slowly, letting the sun soak my skin and feeling the gentle lake breeze brush across my face once again. As I reach the end of the loop, I pass my favorite swinging bench where I have sat with many summer loves and talked of the future. I climb the second stone bridge, almost completing my walk through the park, by passing the old metal statues of our forefathers. The statues stand there, like the eternal guardians of this park, keeping a watchful eye on the many that walk the same worn paths year after year, bringing their children to play in the open fields and on the playground. As the path loops back to the entrance, I walk along the channel and stroll under the towering weeping willow. Countless children have swung on the branches of the old and beautiful tree.
As I walk the final stretch of the park, I know that my slice of heaven will always be waiting right here, waiting for my return like a puppy waiting for his owner to return after a long day at work to cheer him up. I walk back onto the sidewalk knowing that I will be back to spend another summer day in my little slice of heaven.
-Walking Neenah Article by Student Jack Zeinert