NEWINGTON - Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Mill Pond Park received a face lift.
A group of volunteers from the Newington Police Department and Walmart stores spent the day before the solemn anniversary of the civil rights leader’s death beautifying the park.
The efforts were spearheaded by Newington Walmart manager Ray Mercado, who gathered more than a dozen other store managers and employees to help with the project.
The group was joined by several Newington police officers, including Community Services Officer Jamie DeSimone, who knows Mercado.
“It was fantastic,” DeSimone said afterwards.
The department holds its annual Stuff-a-Cruiser Toy and Gift Drive at the Berlin Turnpike store every holiday season. The event garners thousands of gifts for local families through the Newington Department of Human Services’ holiday distribution. Police partner with Walmart staff and volunteers to make it a success.
The Spring Beautification Project was just another collaboration between the two groups, which arrived at the park with shovels, rakes and other landscaping tools.
Overgrown vegetation was trimmed, leaf brush was cleared and flower bulbs were planted. Volunteers focused on the land around a new gazebo that looks over Mill Pond, as well as Mill Pond Falls, abutting Garfield Street.
A lookout sitting area below the falls was cleared of trash and other debris just in time to welcome spring.
Newington Parks and Recreation staff - who usually take care of the town’s parks - were happy to have the help.
“They donated all the mulch and flowers,” recreation program specialist Joe Harvey explained. “It was an opportunity they both saw to make something good happen at the park. We were very grateful for the donation and for their time.”
Mill Pond Park sits right beside Newington’s main campus, home to Town Hall, the Lucy Robbins Welles Library and Newington police headquarters. It sees thousands of visitors every year, who use a walking trail around the pond, baseball fields, tennis courts and swimming pools. The park is also the site of the annual Newington Extravaganza and fireworks show, along with many other Parks and Recreation events and activities.
With the busy outdoor season just ahead of us, it was the perfect time for this project, Harvey pointed out.
“It was a really good turnout and everyone seemed to have a good time despite the bad weather,” he said.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.