Mar 012011
Authors: Shane Rohleder

I used to live down the street from City Park, and even though my house was a dump without a heater, I miss it.

A five-minute walk north and I could be running laps, playing Frisbee or sun-tanning on a hillside at one of my favorite places in town.

City Park is unique and within walking distance of anyone who lives on the north side of town.

It’s a space for everybody and provides a sense of community and a sip of Fort Collins culture.

I want to explain a little bit about what I am speaking of because, if you’ve never been, it can come across somewhat middle-school at first, much like the mall. But I’m here to tell you that if you take a minute to explore, you will find something you love about the park and something you love about Fort Collins.

You might enjoy one of the benches nestled up against City Park Lake, which provide a panoramic view of the geese, the reflecting lake and the outdoor ice-skating rink.

Not the sitting type? That’s okay. Walking around the lake is a popular activity, good for people watching and getting a little exercise.

On the north side people feed the geese near where the fake frogs painted green come hopping onto the sidewalk. As you round the corner and come to face south, you’ll pass by the vacant water park and summer will never have felt so close, nor so far.

Beyond the lake and further north of the frogs, there is a playground. It’s simply built, like the playgrounds our generation used to traipse over, before mulched rubber floors and rock climbing walls were common outdoor architecture.

Woodchips litter the floor and scatter beyond the wooden barriers into the grass, creating nightmares for city maintenance men trying to mow during summer. There is a slide and a lone swingset sitting a ways away from the twisted metal of the jungle gym.

Just last week, I saw a college-aged girl swinging alone. She was in workout clothes, perhaps intending to run, but swinging simply outweighs running every time.

The hill that rises to a plateau in the middle of the park on the east side is a town favorite for catching some rays or meditating under a tree with a favorite book. Like hibernating bears, when the ice over the lake melts and the trees show the first signs of new growth, sleepy citizens leave their caves and climb the hillside to soak up the warm sun back from its winter hiatus.

Cottonwood, big maples and pine provide shade when needed and scenery when shade isn’t wanted. It’s not uncommon to see a slackline from the trunks of two well-spaced cottonwoods for the rock climbers to test their balance. Often with a radio in the background playing Sublime or Rebelution.

City Park even provides opportunity for medieval battling. On the southeast side of the lake in a small patch of mostly unused grass, far from the frogs to the north, a group of men dress in their foam armor and swing their foam weapons at each other in hand-to-hand combat. Battle axes, spears and swords are brought back from the 15th century and used in mock battles to test warrior’s valor and prowess.

Fort Collins is definitely a mystical town –– it’s easy to forget. I go to the Alley Cat for a dose of café-style diversity, but City Park has just as much to offer. If you haven’t been in a while, take a bike ride, a stroll, a pogo stick or a skateboard and plan on staying long enough to experience something new. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Shane Rohleder is a senior communication studies major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

 Posted by at 3:32 pm

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