AS THE CROWN JEWEL OF FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED’S PARK SYSTEM, DELAWARE PARK HAS LONG BEEN A DESTINATION POINT FOR WESTERN NEW YORKERS.
The notoriety of the park has taken on greater significance in recent years with two notable accolades. In 2014, Delaware Park was named one of the Best Places in America. Last year, it had the dubious honor of being designated as one of the Top 10 Places in the World.*
The park also serves as a mecca for local fitness enthusiasts. Walkers and runners can be found exercising year around on the 1.8 mile Ring Road loop. In warmer months, bikers and in-line skaters transform the loop into a virtual fitness freeway. In addition to all the folks maneuvering the loop to improve their health, countless others can be found golfing, playing basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer or FootGolf, which was just introduced in the park last summer.
One of the park’s newest and unique offerings is a self-guided mobile audio walking tour. The tour offers a great way to get outside, take in some exercise while at the same time providing visitors with some great insights on many notable locations throughout the park. The audio tour first debuted last fall and began its first full season this spring. The tour allows park visitors to walk at their own pace in between stops at 13 designated locations through the North and South quadrants of the 350 acre park. It is at these 13 designated points of interest where one can grab a map and listen to discover a great deal of the history associated with Olmsted’s masterpiece.
“What’s great about the tour is that there is no mobile app to download or no QR code to scan,” shared Maureen Hanagan, Director of Marketing & Communications for the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. Unlike self-guided tours that most of us are familiar with in museums or at art galleries, there is no special listening device required. Tour participants simply type tourwand.com/olmsted into the browser of their mobile phones and pick one of three audio tours available. Visitors then simply click on the icon associated with the spot they are at and listen to its story. The tour can be accomplished in any order at any time, seven days a week.
The audio tour was the brain child of Buffalo resident, Ken Kozaczka, a software engineer and Founder of Tourwand.com. A father of three, Kozaczka came up with the idea when taking his kids to the zoo and they kept insisting that he read the exhibit signs to them. Kozaczka developed the concept and approached Hanagan last year. They in turn presented the idea to
M&T Bank and with their support, the program was off and running. Nancy Brock from M&T Bank recently shared how the audio tours are a “win/win” for the bank, Olmsted and the community.
Integral members of the team associated with the audio tour project include, Jim Mendola, Olmsted Park’s volunteer Archivist researched and wrote the audio tour scripts. Local television personality, Linda Pellgrino, provided her voice talent for the audio narration and Jordan Lema from Lemur Studios coordinated all aspects of the audio production.
Eight destination points are included in the tour of the south area of the park (near Hoyt Lake) and include: The Bridge of the Three Americas, Gala Water, The Statue of David, The McMillian Monument, Marcy Casino, The Rose Garden, Beach Banks Picnic Grounds / Spire Head House and the Ivy Bridge. Five stops are included in the north section of the park (around Ring Road) and include The Quarry Garden, The Mighty Oak, Flint Hill Memorial (the final resting place of 300 soldiers from the War of 1812), the Lily Pond and the Zoo Paddock. If you might prefer walking tours with a guide, the Conservancy also offers tours around Hoyt Lake in July and August, visit bfloparks.org for the dates and pricing.
Also new for 2016 and presented by Wegmans, is a six stop tour of the Japanese Garden in Delaware Park located directly behind the Buffalo History Museum. Hanagan is hoping to further expand the audio tour to all six Olmsted parks and is currently seeking sponsors to make that a reality.
“The next tour that is currently in the works is an audio tour of Olmsted’s West Side. Presented by Rich Products, park users can learn about one of Olmsted’s very first parks in the system. This tour highlights Front Park, near the Peace Bridge, Prospect Park, Columbus Park, Richmond Avenue and the landmark circles. Guided bike ride tours will be available in August and September.”
For tour goers wishing to make a donation or become members of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, they can simply hit the More button on the audio tour screen.
*Named one of the Best Places in America, The American Planning Association (Sept. 2014)
One of the Top 10 Parks in the World, the Guardian (Aug. 2015)
Posted June 21st, 2016 by Buffalo Trek & filed under Fitness.
Learn more about the mobile audio tour: https://www.bfloparks.org/parks/delaware-park/