Our first stop was McCollum Park (originally named Mini Park VII) at 1060 S. Neil Street. This charming park, obtained by the Champaign Park District in 1990, stretches nearly two-tenths of a mile along the east side of south Neil Street between Honorary Tim Nugent Way and the attractive vacant lot to its north.
Given its proximity to the railway, the train, which makes frequent visits, makes this park a favorite with children who love to count the cars. Today's drizzle must have kept the other families away, but we enjoyed watching the Canadian National Railway cars bustling down the tracks. The capacious .9 acres allow plenty of space for football or picnics and with the other features the park has to offer, such as the billowing factory smokestacks, the entertaining playground rides for kids (like this adorable chicken),
or the medium-voltage electrical substation,
there's no end to the fun at McCollum Park. Convenient parking is located south of the park at the corner of Neil St. and Honorary Tim Nugent Way, just north of the Verizon Wireless warehouse. Admission is free.
Our tour of Mini Parks took us next to Mini Park II. Located at 3 E. Greet Street, this .2055 acre park, acquired by the Champaign Park District in 1972, stands at the gateway to Campus Town. Verdant, well-manicured lawn makes Mini Park II the perfect spot for spreading out a blanket and reading the novel you keep meaning to read or enjoying a candlelight dinner with that special someone.
Zoe and Bunna really enjoyed the playground.
When we asked today's only other park visitor (well, he was more under the MTD shelter than a park visitor per se) what he enjoyed about the park he said, "People don't come to this park for the recreation, they come for the art." And so it is. Mini Park II is home to Champaign's only large-scale building mural. Painted in 2002 to commemorate the park's 30 year anniversary, this beautiful depiction of CU's diversity and commitment to the three BIG A's (academics, agriculture, and animal rights), "really puts the 'you' in CU," says our bus-riding park goer. "You can really see yourself in that painting!" Can you see us?
Convenient parking is located just north of the park at Hollywood Video or east of the park at CVS Pharmacy. Admission is free.
Stayed tuned to Bunna and Biff for the rest of the Mini Park expose and for your chance to vote on your favorite Champaign Mini Park.