By: Olivia London
Driving down Wheeling Avenue towards Tuhey Park for my first day of participant observation, I had no clue what to expect. I arrived around 7:30 in the morning after getting a large, iced coffee from a local Muncie coffee shop, Rosebud Coffee House. I drove in on North Street and parked on the right side of the street parking near the end of the road. No one was in the park besides an older man dressed in a large coat and layers, who I assumed may be homeless. He was sleeping underneath the picnic structure; I did not disturb him.
I walked to the playground with large slides and connecting towers which had a handicapped playground to the side. While I was walking around, I realized the towers were the Tuhey Towers I had already heard of. I started writing down some of my first observations. I noticed the lack of benches because I wanted to sit, yet there were no seats around. I noticed a large open green area which was not being used. I continued to wander throughout the park. I went to the next playground. This one was a bit smaller and a little older than the last. The playground was visibly worn down after years of use by children and weathering. On one side of the playground was a gaga ball pit constructed out of eight pieces of wood, and on the other side was a picnic area with a gazebo, the same area that the presumed homeless man was sleeping. I walked to the front of the park, which consisted of a walking circle surrounding the Bison-Tennial statue, a representation of Indiana’s 200th Anniversary. There were benches and trashcans spaced along the circle, but none had bags inside to collect trash, it was simply just thrown into the bin. Just one visit to the park illustrated to me the need for this parks project. I asked myself a multitude of questions such as; are all Muncie parks like Tuhey, if not how do they compare, and why are Muncie parks this way? I also set out to compare Muncie Parks to other communities’ parks to see if there could be a better way.