“It is a beautiful greenspace – a place to play, to gather, to make memories.”— taken from the Save Tuhey website
“Tuhey is one of the nicest parks in Muncie”A mom of three at Tuhey Park
The Bison-tennial Statue
The bison is one of the first things seen when visitors enter the park from the north side. The bison is decorated with painted patterns, with white lines on the face, and sits on a yellowish white rock on a square base, and is over five feet tall. It sits in the middle of a circle of trees that observers have seen people hang hammocks from.
Just past the bison statue is Tuhey Pool. The pool is one of the main features of Tuhey Park, with the other being Tuhey Towers. The pool is a fifty-meter pool and is used by the public of Muncie, the YMCA, and other private organizations like Cardinal Community Swim Club. The pool is used by the swim club during the summer months for swim practices. Swim meets, or competitions, are hosted on some weekends during the summer. Both the Swim Club and the YMCA host swim lessons in the pool, and the YMCA has hosted other in-water classes. In the mornings during the summer swim season, some people like to come to the pool and swim laps for exercise. One of the main ideas behind the parks system is to provide a place for people to exercise (Garvin, 2011, 34). The multiple uses of the pool help cement its importance to Muncie.
The biggest, most notable aspect of Tuhey Pool is its slide. The slide is blue and white, and is a major source of fun during the pool season. Both kids and adults line up during the summer pool season to go down the slide. Some kids get in line to go down the slide multiple times in a row. The pool is surrounded by a fence, which guides visitors to the office building where they can purchase tickets to enter. Also near the pool are four blue pavilions. These pavilions provide shade for visitors, and serve as excellent areas to leave one’s bags while enjoying the pool.
The entrance to Tuhey Pool is a one story building with an office. It is typical for park buildings to be short, only one to two stories, so that the buildings do not distract from the park (Cranz, 1982, 46). This office is both where lifeguards meet before they begin working for the day and where people can purchase tickets for a day at the pool. This building is across from the pool restrooms and locker rooms. The locker rooms have several stalls, several showers, with at least one having a door, and an open area for changing in the middle. The locker rooms serve as changing rooms, bathrooms, and a pathway into and out of the pool.
On one side of the pool there is a kiddie pool. This kiddie pool is shallow, and has a structure in the middle that is brightly colored and has a raised floor and two short slides. On top of the structure is a red bucket that is slowly filled by a spigot and occasionally dumps into the pool. One end of the kiddie pool is deeper than the other, but is still shallow enough for small children to play in safely. Toddlers like to splash and run around in this pool, usually under the watchful eye of their parents.
On the same side as the kiddie pool, but connected to the larger pool, is a shallow area accessible by a ramp. This area may be for use by handicapped individuals, as the ramp would allow easy access into the pool. This area is also deep enough that someone who could not walk could enjoy the pool, but shallow enough that the risk of drowning is minimized. This area is also fenced off from the rest of the pool. The fence is made from white plastic pipes, and is probably meant to keep users of this area safe and keep rowdy kids from disturbing anyone who is using the area.
Photo credits — Top left: muncievoice.com. Top middle: Sierra Runion. Top right: mapsus.net. Bottom left: visitmuncie.org. Bottom middle: Brooklynn Kelley. Bottom right: visitmuncie.org
Tuhey Towers is one of the first things you see upon entering Tuhey Park from the south. Beneath the Towers there are several activity places and a set of mushroom-shaped seats, allowing for even more variety to play with. Tuhey Towers is also brightly colored, full of reds and blues. This, combined with the blues of the pool’s slide and the yellows and other colors of Tuhey’s smaller playground, could be to help the park be more pleasing to the eye. Being pleasing to the eye is a very important thing for even the smallest of parks to consider (Jacobs 1961, 106-107). The bright colors of the play area are not the only things that make Tuhey Towers appealing.
While the Towers have several stories, each story is surrounded by a red fence. This fence goes from the floors to the roof and prevents children playing inside from falling. On top of some of these fenced areas are blue, pyramid-shaped roofs. These roofs help show that the structure consists of several towers connected by walkways. During my observations I have seen multiple groups of children running through the walkways. Several of the roofs are placed directly over the entrances to slides, perhaps to draw attention to these areas of the structures.
Tuhey Towers has a variety of slides. Some of these slides are on the first floor and are rather short. Other slides have their entrances on the second floor and extend to the ground. Some of these slides are straight and others are curved. There are even two curly slides, one starting on the first floor and the other starting on the second. One little boy playing on one of the curly slides compared the experience to going down a toilet. The two slides on the front of Tuhey Towers have covered entrances. One slide on the side is covered from the entrance all the way to the ground.
To get into Tuhey Towers, you can use any of multiple different styles of ladders. There is a set of stairs with a banister, a rope ladder, a rock wall, and several others. If you are feeling adventurous, and there is no one in the way, you can even use a slide to climb in. The stairs and ladders are spread out around the Towers. Inside there are ladders that can be used to climb to the second floor. These ladders are surrounded by plastic walls to prevent people from falling backwards off the Towers. Sidenote: do not do what the author did and try to climb these ladders one-handed. You will regret your decision, as it is very difficult.
The second floor is shaped like a triangle. It consists of a large blue triangular floor surrounded by red fences, with a triangle-shaped cutout in the middle allowing you to see down onto the first floor. The first floor is also roughly triangular, but instead of a cutout in the middle, it has a square floor in the middle. Two sets of stairs lead up to this floor and from this floor you can head out into the halls of the first floor and begin enjoying the structure.
Next to Tuhey Towers is a swing set. I have seen little boys swinging together and chatting on the swing set. I was told by a parent who consented to my survey that they sometimes sit on the swing set to watch their children play. The swings are fun for more than just kids.
Other Equipment at Tuhey
This is some of the handicap-accessible equipment located at Tuhey Park. It is in a small lot just in front of the parking lot and connected to the rest of the park by a short sidewalk.
Tuhey also has one picnic shelter. Inside this shelter are several picnic tables. This shelter has been used for many things, including potentially a birthday party, a business meeting, and possibly a crafting session. The picnic shelter has had a “happy birthday” banner across the front throughout various visits to the park. On September 28, 2021, a group from a dentist’s office near Tuhey came to the park and ate lunch (Noodles & Company) in the shelter. On another day I saw paint and googly eyes inside the shelter and on top of some of the tables, implying that maybe someone had been crafting that day.
Across from Tuhey Towers and next to the picnic shelter is a smaller playground, probably for smaller children. This playground has a yellow curly slide, an arc-shaped swing set, a merry-go-round, and a tire swing. All of the playground equipment sits on top of rubber mulch. Just outside the boundary of this area is a gaga ball pit.
Gaga ball rules, photo by Douglas Weinert
At certain times of day, this playground is covered in shade due to the trees that grow next to it. I have seen moms with small toddlers using this playground to play. I have also seen groups of kids using the merry-go-round or playing in the gaga pit.
Tuhey has had a shopping cart lying around for much of the time we have spent observing. Several children have played with this cart as if it were a part of the built environment.
One little boy dubbed the cart an “Uber” and pushed his friend around in it for a little while. Later, these same two boys tried and failed to push the cart up the slide. They gave up after two failed attempts. Several other children have also tried to play with the shopping cart, showing that children’s imaginations are not limited to the built environment of the park, but can extend to anything.
Cranz, Galen. The Politics of Park Design. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1982.
Garvin, Alexander. Public Parks: The Key to Livable Communities. W.W. Norton & Company, 2011.
Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities: Orig. Publ. 1961. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.