WILMINGTON –– Plan accordingly: If it’s a rainy day at Riverfront Park, there are not many places to hide from the torrential downpour, as one Port City Daily photographer found out recently. However, on a sunny day, the urban green space will be perfect for picnics and strolls. Eat lunch on the stage if you choose, suntan on the lawn, let a child climb the jungle gyms, or (namaste) do yoga in the outdoor “classrooms.”
On Friday, journalists got a “first look” at Riverfront Park from city park manager Dave Pugh, who shared he’s most excited to enjoy the perk of having an office in a concert venue when Widespread Panic performs later this month. On his tour, Pugh highlighted some of the nooks and crannies of the park that previously were hidden from outside the construction gates. While most of the hype has surrounded the large stage overlooking the Cape Fear River, there are also outdoor “classrooms” and a play area for families to explore.
“It’s really the keystone park for the City of Wilmington,” Pugh said. “In the past, Greenfield Lake was our largest and most visited park, and now we have this, you know, 6-and-a-half-acre beautiful park right here on the river, downtown, and that’s just something not very many cities can brag about.”
City leaders cut the ribbon to Riverfront Park later in the afternoon.
“I get goosebumps when I look at it from the stage or from the back,” Mayor Bill Saffo said. “The other night I just went down to show my parents, and there were people, already had jumped the fence and gotten into it and loved it. It was just great to see the kids down there and dogs –– it was just unbelievable.”
The $38 million, 6.6.-acre park is officially open to the public –– except for one portion. The west gardens are still under construction due to weather-related delays. The park features 24,000-square-feet of gardens, 1.8 acres of lawn, and 4,900 linear feet of paths.
On Saturday the park may or may not be accessible as the city sets up for Fourth of July festivities and adds finishing touches in the morning. Come Sunday at 1 p.m., it’s guaranteed to welcome all for the city’s family-friendly grand opening. People can reach the park through the Riverwalk’s two connections or the accesses on Nutt Street and Cowan Street. There will be free entertainment throughout the afternoon as well as a beer garden, hosted by the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance, and activities for kids.
Pugh said the event is a way to test out the venue ahead of the first concert.
Check out some highlights of the park. Click to enlarge and scroll:
Check out Port City Daily’s past coverage:
July 2: Trying to catch a concert from the Riverwalk? Patrols planned during park concerts
Jun. 26: City works out final details for Riverfront Park, one portion unfinished
Jun. 15: City plans music-filled Fourth of July opening at Riverfront Park, fireworks
May 30: City gets almost everything it wants in Riverfront Park, possibility of river access uncertain
May 8: Riverfront Park will bring thousands of visitors, 0 parking spaces. Is saving the downtown trolley the answer?
Dec. 19, 2020: After delays and cost increases, city anticipates June 2021 opening for Wilmington’s North Waterfront Park
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