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Six-year-old Chance Seeds spent the day running through the water at the splash pad at McEuen Park in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday. (Kathy Plonka)
Six-year-old Chance Seeds spent the day running through the water at the splash pad at McEuen Park in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday. (Kathy Plonka)

McEuen Park in Coeur d’Alene celebrates $20 million redesign

You may not be able to entirely flee the heat, but you can have a little fun with it by heading to a park, playground, splash pad, lakefront or woodsy retreat this weekend.

Or just head to McEuen Park in downtown Coeur d’Alene for the whole sizzling enchilada.

Saturday is the first big community celebration in the newly rebuilt urban oasis next to Tubbs Hill and Lake Coeur d’Alene. It’s part of the city’s annual Parks Day, presented by the parks department and Panhandle Parks Foundation, and includes a free breakfast, lunch and dinner with lots of activities and entertainment piled between.

Newcomers can explore the park’s amenities and learn some insights on the design concepts using The Spokesman-Review’s new online walking tour of McEuen.

Landscape architect Dell Hatch of Welch Comer Engineers in Coeur d’Alene was instrumental in dreaming up what the park would look like and how it would function and flow. The $20 million project, which included re-engineering Front Avenue and tucking parking spots under the street, was completed in recent months.

Hatch said he has a few favorite features of the finished park, including the Front Avenue Promenade and the panoramic views from the top of the grand staircase. Plus, “I like the playground just because it draws so much activity and excitement.”

He also is pleased with the new lakeside plaza.

“Our main goal was to utilize our waterfront a little smarter and appreciate it a little more,” Hatch said. “Where for the past 50 years we’ve had asphalt parking adjacent to our waterfront, we said does that really make sense or should we have people on the waterfront and put the cars in the backyard?”

Here are highlights of Saturday’s celebration, which runs from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.:

• Free pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. courtesy of the Panhandle Kiwanis.

• Dog park dedication at 9:15 a.m. by Kootenai County Dog Park Association. Includes free photos with your dog.

• The Native Plant Society will lead hikes on Tubbs Hill starting at 10 a.m.

• Kids Day in the Park activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., hosted by the North Idaho Association for Education of Young Children and the Coeur d’Alene Childcare Commission. Mudgy Moose and Smokey Bear will be there, plus a free bounce house.

• Coeur d’Alene Kiwanis free hot dog lunch at noon.

• Entertainment: Sorensen Jugglers, The Angela Marie Project, Carli Osika, KOSH, Jazz Northwest, Coeurly Q’s Square Dancing, the Youth Marimba Band and the Rythum Dawgs.

• Free hamburger dinner at 5 p.m. by Lion’s Club International.

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