Wilmington’s Cool Spring Park introduces new amphitheater and outdoor classroom

The Delaware park has seen significant changes over the past year, including new bilingual signs along its trails.

People at Cool Spring Park

The amphitheater outdoor classroom is one of the efforts of the city of Wilmington to give the urban community green, quality spaces. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

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Educators and children buzzed with excitement as they trickled into Cool Spring Park in Wilmington on a hot and sunny Tuesday in June eager to be the first to experience the park’s new outdoor classroom. This innovative space aims to transform learning and recreation for all visitors, offering a dynamic environment in the heart of nature.

Just a year ago, Wilmington’s Cool Spring Park introduced the city’s first dual-language trail, featuring signs in both Spanish and English, enhancing the park’s appeal. Now, with the new amphitheater and outdoor classroom, the park offers even more for visitors of all ages.

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In 2019, Alison Quimby, manager of sustainability and environmental compliance for the city of Wilmington, proposed an outdoor classroom to help support families and community members living in the urban areas where green spaces may be limited.

However, it faced setbacks at the time due to the pandemic.

“I just had this thought in my mind, definitely like a daydream, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be beautiful to give [this to] the citizens of Wilmington who are inside of buildings a lot?’” she said. “[We want to] give them a space to be outside where they can feel comfortable, where they can learn. It’s not just for environmental stuff.”

Collaborators including Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, the city of Wilmington, Healthy Communities Delaware and local schools came together Tuesday morning to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the park’s new addition.

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Contributors of Wilmington’s Cool Spring Park in Delaware celebrated the ribbon cutting of the new amphitheater and outdoor classroom. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

Education and community were central to this project, influencing its location at Cool Spring Park due to the park’s proximity to nearby schools. During construction, involving the community was essential, with students at William C. Lewis Dual Language Elementary School contributing by planting native plants and attracting pollinators.

“We went through three different schools. But this was the one that we definitely landed on, and it’s perfection. The goal is to do this again and again. This is an experience that William C. Lewis and Padua and Ursuline or any community can come and enjoy,” she added. “With the help of the school William C. Lewis, they were able to come out, get their fingers dirty and do some planting, and they found worms and they were so excited.”

Despite its central location for schools, Quimby points out, “It says ‘classroom,’ but really it’s for everyone.”

There’s just four rules for using the park: Find a cozy spot, listen to the wind, look at some plants and enjoy the wildlife.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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