Memories Are Made in Forest Park — Now & Forever

Lisa Jundt and Andrew Leonard

Lisa Jundt and Andrew Leonard

Home is a place where memories are made and remembered. A place where traditions are celebrated and created. It’s a place of familiarity and comfort, community and relationships.

On a recent Thursday evening, as the St. Louis Symphony musicians prepped for their concert on Art Hill, we spoke with Park visitors about the intersection of their lives and these 1,300 acres.

We learned that for St. Louisians, Forest Park …

Connects them to their past.

For Lisa Jundt, the Park reminds her of her grandma. “When I was little, my grandma was poor so we came here and had picnics. When I’m here I remember where we used to picnic.”

Jundt’s son, Andrew Leonard, has his own memories of coming to Forest Park with his mom and says their many trips to The Boathouse remain among his favorite.  

Rosalyn Washington

Rosalyn Washington

Rosalyn Washington cherishes the photos she has of herself with her grandparents in the Park on Easter Sunday. “That was a tradition for African American families when they moved from the South to St. Louis. You would dress up and come to Forest Park to walk around,” she says.

Maggie Licklider used to visit Forest Park when she’d travel to St. Louis as a kid to visit her older sister. She now appreciates the variety of free things to do in the Park and says that “it’s cool to come back to these places as an adult.” 

Sara Barnett and her daughter, Paige, remember coming to the zoo in the dead of winter for an extra credit assignment. “It was awesome; we had the whole place to ourselves,” says Sara.

Julie Bilow considers the free symphony concert on Art Hill to be her big event of the year. She loves it so much that even rain didn’t stop her from attending a few years ago. “It drizzled until the symphony started,” she says. “The skies opened up, the stars and moon came out. it was a magical night.”

Helps create new memories.

Once Jeff Ullery moved back to St. Louis after finishing college, he and his dad started a new tradition: playing golf. “We probably started doing this three years ago. We play golf and then go over to the Boathouse afterwards for a drink by the water,” he says. “It’s a really nice weekday evening.”

Joann Rich and her son, Nathan Rich, like to take advantage of the free events on Art Hill, especially the Symphony concert. Joann says Microfest Beer Festival is one of her favorite events, while Nathan considers Shakespeare in the Park to be his. “It’s just really cool to have this green space in the middle of the city,” says Nathan. 

Provides a comfortable familiarity.

Cynthia Woodcock

Cynthia Woodcock

Forest Park is Tabitha Smith’s preferred running location because it’s her favorite place to see all four seasons. “It’s really peaceful and meditative.” 

Cynthia Woodcock, in her I Love Forest Park 5K t-shirt, says that the Park’s flowers and green spaces remind her of the rural town she grew up in. “It feels comfortable, like a little oasis in the city,” she says. “And it’s bigger than Central Park, so I always like to say, ‘I’m in something bigger than Central Park.’”

Henry Chaney comes to the Park to attend events, bike, walk, and … take naps. The best napping spot?  

“I can’t tell you that,” he says.

Chaney may have a favorite napping spot, but he says he doesn’t have a favorite spot in general. “Every time I’m here with my friends hanging out, it’s a good time.”

Coming to the Park is part of Maxine Williams’s routine. “I traditionally come out here to walk before or after services on Sunday. I get a coffee and a bite to eat,” she says. “My favorite spot, of course, is the Highlands patio. The sunsets are phenomenal.”  

Creates community.

It’s not just the many free events that keep Kathy Zeman coming back to the Park — it’s the people. “The man that just came through here, we were chatting back there. It’s fun to come here and meet new people,” she says.  

Josiah Bridges and Josh James

Josiah Bridges and Josh James

While Josiah Bridges and Josh James appreciate the scenery in Forest Park, they picked the Park as the perfect backdrop for their photography project. “We’re going up to random people asking them if we can take their photo,” says Josiah.

Welcomes them to the city.

Heather Long and her kids, Kailee, Jerry, and Jyair, moved to St. Louis from Florida just over a year ago. She’s found her footing in St. Louis by taking advantage of the variety of activities available in the Park. “We got a chance to go to the Zoo and the museums — we like having that variety and having everything here,” she says.

“This is by far the place we love the most,” says Navya Konka. She and Lokesh Donepudi have only recently moved to St. Louis but have found a home in Forest Park. Konka actually decided to live in Clayton just so she could be near the Park.

“I think Art Hill is our favorite place,” says Donepudi. “We usually sit there and watch the fountain in the evening.”

Navya Konka and Lokesh Donepudi

Navya Konka and Lokesh Donepudi

“We also play poker and board games with our friends,” adds Konka.  

“We didn’t expect this when we came here,” says Donepudi. “It helped us when we were new to St. louis and just getting used to the place.”

Young or old, newcomer or lifelong St. Louis resident, there’s one thing that’s certain–Forest Park feels like home, and home is where the Park is.

AwarenessJen Roberts