By Jaasmin Foote, Hood College Student Article Written for Feature Writing Class with Katherine Orloff
The last thing you’d envision when thinking about your neighborhood park is a wild goose chase.
Imagine a grandmother and her two granddaughters performing the traditional ceremony of bird feeding at a murky pond when one of the geese begins his attack. The bird’s loud squawking and wing-beating fury draws the attention of nearby runners, dog walkers, children at the playground, and the group of high school seniors taking prom pictures.
There are no dull moments at the 58-acre linear park, located in Frederick, Maryland. It runs through the heart of downtown Frederick, and entertains many guests including photographers, families, college students, skateboarders and roller skaters, walkers and their four-legged companions, runners, readers, couples, tanners, and all those in between.
With the help of a donation of $13,825 from Joseph Dill Baker to The City of Frederick, the park was established in 1926. It is named after Baker, and features the Joseph D. Baker Bell Tower and Carillon in honor of his memory, both built in November of 1941.
The Bell Tower, designed by John B. Hamme of York, Pennsylvania, is 70 feet high, 16 feet square at its base, and is built of Baltimore County granite. The Carillon is often referred to by the residents as “the Jewel in the Crown of Baker Park” and has 58 bells. Each bell bears the inscription, “The Joseph Dill Baker Memorial.” The largest reads, “This tower and carillon have been erected by his friends in loving memory of Joseph Dill Baker 1854 –1938, whose life was benediction to this community, 1941.”
These are not the only monuments built in the memory of influential people of Frederick at this site. Culler Memorial Fountain sits proudly at the main entry of the park. Installed in 1928, the fountain was made as a shrine to Mayor Lloyd Culler’s daughter, who died in 1923.
Attractions include playgrounds, walking paths, ball parks, tennis courts, Frisbee and soccer fields, a concert pavilion, and a lake. It is a pivotal location in Frederick. Seasonal events are hosted there including the city’s 4th of July celebration with fireworks and free summer Sunday concerts in the band shell. The spot is home to one the city’s two swimming pools; it is also source for numerous family reunions, weddings, picnics, and community and charitable events.
In 1991, Victoria Seward founded Friends of Baker Park, a group of about 200 people who are dedicated to getting the community involved in maintaining, preserving, restoring, and using the communal facility.
“Public parks are critical to the community because they offer green space and access to nature that otherwise wouldn’t be available,” said Peter Brehm, President of Friends of Baker Park. “Valuable friend groups like us help organize citizens’ efforts to offer support, maintenance, and advancement in the community.”
The organization collaborates with other local associations such as The Center of Coastal Watershed Studies at Hood College. This establishment is comprised of Hood faculty, students, and volunteers.
“The students do most of the work,” said Drew Ferrier, Professor of Biology and Director of Hood’s Coastal Studies Program. “Our mission is to work with community and citizen groups. We help them collect and interpret data and we also analyze data that they have already collected. Baker Park is a touchstone for Frederick City. It’s certainly a place of aesthetic beauty and relaxation, but it’s also a venue for entertainment.”
Finding yourself trapped inside of a dinosaur’s ribcage is just one of the bonuses of visiting the park. The Flemming Street Playground showcases Mr. Ed the Dinosaur, an imitation T-Rex skeleton. Taking pictures with this sack of bones is one of the main attractions that call kids from one to 92.