10 Years Later, Forest Park Forever’s Eric Hazley Has Some Stories to Tell

A Q&A with Forest Park Forever's Gardener Eric Hazley

First off, we want to congratulate Eric Hazley on 10 years at Forest Park Forever! Eric has many stories to tell and is a beloved member of Forest Park Forever. You can catch Eric’s smiling face in the zone in what we refer to as Zone 3, which covers Art Hill, the Cascades and the western half of the dual recreational path. He helps to maintain all of the plantings and hardscape by mulching, planting, pruning, weeding, watering, trash pick-up, storm clean-up and blowing off paths. Scroll down for the inside scoop on Eric’s tenure in the Park.

What led you to be a Gardener at Forest Park Forever?

I worked at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for 20 years. You have to find your passion and calling in life, and that wasn’t it. I was looking out the window having lunch one day at Queeny Tower overlooking Forest Park, and I saw the guys cutting grass. One was planting flowers, one guy was weed whacking, another on a lawnmower, and the other had a blower — they were all working in unison, making Forest Park look beautiful. I kept staring, and I just blurted out, “That’s what I want to do.” After that, I worked a variety of groundskeeping jobs. My experience level got better and better. It took five years before I got grounded and knew how to use the tools. Forest Park Forever had an ad in the paper. I really wanted the job. 

What are your most treasured memories while working at Forest Park Forever?

First, when I saw the bird hop a ride on the turtle, go across the lake and then the bird jumped off and went up to shore.

And second, when America’s Heartland Remembers put flags on Art Hill for victims of 9/11. We had the whole hill filled with flags. I was out there the next day, and the wind kicked up. I started sticking the flags back in and pushing them up. There was an older lady that told me I was dedicated to putting those flags back in and she thanked me. She said, “So many people died and my son, he died.” She started crying, and it got me emotional. Then this guy from the National Geographic came up and took a picture of her and me. Later on, maybe a year or two later, he sent me the pictures in the mail.

If you could spend all of your time in one place in the Park where would it be?

In Zone 2 by the weeping willow tree near Post-Dispatch Lake. That is my favorite place. 

Any final words?

The people who work here are dedicated. They are passionate about their work. It’s a job that I love, and I have great passion for it.

Thank you, Eric, for the impact you have made on Forest Park and the community. We appreciate you.