Opening of Garfield Park and Crystal Lake

Today our sentimental journey is returning us to 1949 for an article about the opening of the “New” Garfield Park and then a look at the opening of the 1949 edition of Crystal Lake. So let’s get to Garfield Park.

From the Marion Star Friday May 27, 1949 on the front page, we have this headline. “1,500 See Inauguration of City Softball Games Under Lights.” And under the headline appeared a picture with this caption.

Night Softball at Garfield park was given a grand sendoff last night with band music, baton twirling, and speeches to mark the occasion. Shown let to right in the dedication ceremony are Harold Smith, owner of the lights and president of the Marion Softball commission; Vern Miller, physical director of the YMCA; Bernard Moloney, who made the introductions; and Mayor Dowler.

Nearly 1,500 fans witnessed the opening of softball under the lights at Garfield park last night.

They filled the bleachers which seat 600, lined the left and right field lines, and sat in cars which surrounded the park to see the festivities. It was the first time night softball had ever been played on a Marion city park diamond and a carnival spirit prevailed.

Mayor Dowler thanked Harold Smith, sponsor of Smitty’s Maids and Smitty’s All-Stars, and members of the park commission for making “this great thing for Marion possible.” Both he and Vern Miller, physical director of the YMCA and secretary of the Marion Softball commission, expressed the hope that crowds throughout the year would be as large.

The Harding High School band and majorettes performed from 7 p. m. to 8 and they were relieved by the Eagles lodge band.

In the feature game of the evening Shanty Town, city champs, bowed to the Richwood All-Stars, 3-0, but no one minded too much for the first night of softball under the arcs was a success. The champs picked up only one hit off the hurling of Richwood’s Ken Moats. One was a double by Bob Jones.

Oddly enough, the girls stole the spotlight. The game between Smitty’s Maids of Marion and the Delaware Girls was to be played before the lights were turned on. However, the visitors were late and the women played the first night softball game at Garfield park. The Maids won, 2-0, with the Maids’ star pitcher Helen Mochel hurling her usual effective game.

The W. and W. Provision team, biggest threat to Shanty Town in the Commercial League for the city championship, romped over Tong Implement of Waldo, 10-1. Well-known Marion softball pitchers, Guy Lewis and “Fats” Millisor allowed the Waldo boys only one hit each.

Harold Smith who is also president of the Marion Softball commission donated the use of his lights, equipment, and bleachers formerly in use at Crystal Lake park.

In addition to erecting the poles for lights and installing the arcs much work had to be done on the field itself. The backstop was moved back and a new one put up. Dirt was brought in and rolled to provide an excellent infield.

Tonight the first of the YMCA softball leagues will play under the lights. Industrial league No. 1 contests are The Star vs. Huber Company at 6:30 p. m., Ohio Public Service vs. Universal Cooler at 7:45, and Pollak Steel vs. Marion Power Shovel at 9 p. m.

Three games may be played a night on the Garfield diamond, one twilight and two night games. Of the four Y leagues three have eight teams so McKinley park will still be used for the extra game.

From the Marion Star Thursday May 26, 1949, on page 26, we have this full page ad with this banner across the top of the page.

Announcing….. The Formal Opening of CRYSTAL LAKE PARK, (Located One Mile North of Marion at Junction of Routes 23 and 4) THE PARK OFFICIALLY OPENS SUNDAY, MAY 29th.

Then, in small bubble ads across the page there were these announcements.

  • Kiddie’s Train Rides, a new miniature train in which you can sit while it travels down the track. Don’t miss the train ride when you come to Crystal Lake Park.
  • Try Your Skill At The Shooting Gallery! See how good of a shot you really are! Win many fine prizes by applying your skill in shooting at the target.
  • Play Golf on our miniature GOLF COURSE
  • Stop at the most popular spot on the Midway, THE ARCADE
  • SWIMMING Is a pleasure in our new Crystal Pool! MODERN BATH HOUSESSHOWERS
  • Henry Myers GLASS BLOWER Direct from Tampa Saturday and Sunday
  • TONIGHT ONLY “The most versatile band in the land” brought to you directly from the foremost college campuses! IN PERSON Ray McKinley Admission $1.00 per person plus tax Dancing Starts at 8:30 P. M. In The CRYSTAL BALLROOM
  • Try America’s Favorite Sandwich…The HOT DOG
  • COMILLE And His 27 World Famous Dogs 4 FREE ACTS Sun. – Mon. 2:00 4:30 8:00 11:00 Preview Sat. Nite 9:30
  • DANCING SUN. And MON. To The Music of Glenn Johnson His New Orchestra featuring Tommy Pope of WMRN 50¢ plus tax
  • Try Your Luck at the DART GAMES Win Outstanding Prizes
  • SQUARE DANCING Tomorrow Night with the “Melody Ramblers” Featuring BASIL BAKER (caller) Dancing 8:30 to 12:00 PLAN TO COME!
  • They’re so good you’ll have to try our delicious Hamburgers
  • You’ll find it a lot of fun to drive the … “DODGE ‘EMS” Here’s real fun on one of the most popular amusements on the Midway! You actually sit in the car, drive toward another, and “dodge-em” Lots of fun for the whole family
  • CHILDREN’S PONY RIDES! Kiddies, here’s your chance to ride a real western pony… our new specially built track permits you to hold the reins yourself while your favorite steed steps forth with grace around the star-studded track.

What a great place to visit must have been Crystal Lake Park. I really enjoyed swimming there but don’t remember the amusement park.

About Phil Reid

Phil Reid is a former Chief of the Marion City Fire Department, teacher, and City Council President. In addition to his writing on local history, Reid hosts "Sentimental Journey" on Saturday mornings on 97.5 FM. He is also the author of "The Mystifying Murder in Marion, Ohio." You can learn more at