Bike riding has been our saving grace during the travel-limiting pandemic – and I write this, sadly, while RAGBRAI was supposed to be happening. Peddling along our favorite loop ride from Beaverdale to downtown Des Moines yesterday , we admired new attractions in Waterworks Park downtown and Riverview Park, near North High School.
Waterworks Park is now home to a sculpture honoring RAGBRAI founders John Karras and Don Kaul, who we remember fondly from working in the 1990s at the DM Register during happier days (for newspapers and the world beyond…). Adjacent is a fantastic new playground/playscape made of huge grey rounded logs that reminded me of the Flintstones and an F Troop fort. Would love to see what kids make of it. And this is all part of the great new outdoor amphitheater there, where last year we enjoyed a free DSM Symphony concert (in the rain, no less).
The tunnel leading under Fleur Drive from Waterworks to Grey’s Lake Park is not technically open but it proved a fantastic alternative to riding across four lanes of busy traffic. It’s also very attractive.
The redevelopment of Riverview Park is coming along nicely – with a huge outdoor amphitheater rising and a fun new old-fashioned-looking playground with a red and white carnival look that I assume is a big nod to the former Riverview Amusement Park, which was built on this site in 1915 – based on Brooklyn’s Coney Island – and lasted until 1978. The amphitheater stage has acrazy 60-foot high steel arch that mimics the Amusement park’s old rollercoaster and is named after the Riviera Ballroom that was once part of the park, hosting luminaries including Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington!.
Seeing these new projects gives me hope during a bleak time.