Thank You, Arcadia County Park


Stephanie Wang, News Editor

For many people, a few ideas come to mind when prompted to think of “home”: the scenery of their hometown, a place they know every nook and cranny of, or maybe even something intangible—nostalgic childhood memories or the smile of a family member or friend, maybe. For me, my idea of home encapsulates all of the above: in the lush grass, picnic tables, and swing sets of Arcadia County Park that have supported my growth as an individual and an athlete for as long as I can remember.

Attending a school within walking (or running) distance of a park streaked with flat concrete paths and covered in soft grass is every high school runner’s dream; there are few feelings better than cruising through a run with the breeze in your hair on a cool afternoon or crushing a workout as you skid to a halt at the end of the figure eight—an infinity-shaped loop in the center of the park that measures perfectly to 800m (half a mile).

Until the first league meet of freshman year, I had taken for granted the park I ran daily in. It was only until I raced at other schools’ courses and experienced the pain that accompanies twisting an ankle over gravel and loose stones or slogging up extreme inclines fit only for mountain goats that I gained a new appreciation for the even terrain of Arcadia County Park.

Even after the pandemic began and team training ground to a halt, the open park still provided a place for daily training to stay in shape and even served as a common rendezvous point to meet up with teammates to run with. In fact, although I hadn’t planned to, I actually ran (pun intended) into quite a few teammates, past and present, while training in the park, allowing me a few moments to catch up with friends I had lost touch with during the pandemic.

However, even beyond running, Arcadia County Park has also deeply impacted my development as a person. Before I had ever even stepped foot into Arcadia High School as a wide-eyed freshman, the park was where I first encountered members of the cross-country team, laying the groundwork for friendships that would last for years. Since then, the park has always been a place where I’m constantly driven to push my boundaries—during workouts, races on our home course, and social interactions with others.

The park isn’t just a place for our team alone, either; it’s a symbol of community in Arcadia. Each time I step foot in the park, I’m witness to a new facet of the city that adds to my love for the community: in the white-haired man sitting on the bench who never fails to strike up conversation with passersby, in the woman always wearing a purple tracksuit and red visor who has begun to recognize me, in the two fluffy dogs with mud-stained paws romping through the park on early misty mornings.

To me, personally, the park also keeps a collection of memories for my perusal. Watching children on scooters zoom around the concrete path or clamber over the slide transports me back to a childhood of playing in the wood chips of the playground; turning the corner of the chain-link fence reminds me of breathless moments after countless workouts spent hunched over, gasping for air after each repetition; passing a bend of the sidewalk near the parking lot fills me with melancholy as I remember late-night runs and conversations with a friend I have since drifted apart from. Like the petals of a flower pressed between worn pages, those memories are preserved in Arcadia County Park forever.

Thank you to Arcadia County Park and for everyone who tirelessly works to maintain the park—for shaping me, past generations, and future generations of Arcadia students and residents!


Photo courtesy of PARKS.LACOUNTY.GOV