Smile Politely

Year of the Park, A to Z: Burwash Park, Savoy

As Year of the Park continues, we will be documenting every park in Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy, Champaign County Forest Preserves, along with other odds and ends between July 2020 and more like August or September 2021. You can see what has been covered thus far by clicking here. If you have suggestions or ideas or feedback, feel free to contact us at


Burwash Park 


350 Burwash, Savoy

a grove with trees and flowers in a park

Photo by Maddie Rice. 


By Savoy standards, this is an older park for the village. It might be the oldest by modern standards. I am not sure, honestly. Having been founded in 1979, it would stand to reason that it is a weathered park for the community, at the least. 1979! Hey, that is the year I was born! It was an electric time to be alive, baby… 

This park has a bunch of really nice amenities and features, and I’ll list them here: 

1. Baseball diamond. Always good. Greatest sport known to mankind. 

2. Sand volleyball court. Awesome. Nothing better than a day playing this game with a cooler of Claws. It’s illegal to drink alcohol in a park in Savoy but honestly, they ain’t gonna do shit. Just be cool, don’t flaunt it. 

a sand volleyball court

Photo by Maddie Rice. 

3. A pavilion. Good place to gather with friends and family. 

4. A playground. Basic and normal, but a good thing, always. Thank you Savoy!

5. Walking Paths. Meh, these walking paths are just OK. Give me Hessel or Meadowbrook any day. But that’s fine, there are sidewalks here in this park. And hey, you can sit on this trippy hobbit ass bench. OK! Good job. 

a wooden bench in front of a flowering bush

Photo by Maddie Rice. 


Look, I’ve been hard on Savoy in the past. I really just wish it had some things that it doesn’t have. But that does not mean that I do not appreciate the things that it does have. I love Skateland. I mean, I came of age in that weird ol’ place. I even shot the duck competitively one time and won tokens that allowed me to get a Meadow Gold Italian Ice at the snack bar. I love Savoy! You know, one of my favorite baseball films, The Natural, features the name and word Savoy in an extremely prominent way. Woosh, I still cry watching Wonderboy split. Malamud probably never had that in mind when he put pen to paper back in the day.

And! The Savoy 16, which was once the Savoy 8, changed movie going in Champaign-Urbana forever, for better or worse.

One time, my best friend and I walked all the way from Race and Windsor to Savoy 8 to watch a movie. Just to say we did. And we did! And we still talk about it to the day. That movie? King Ralph. That’s right. We went to see King Ralph together, without our parents permission, and it was at a time when no one driving on the new Windsor Rd. batted an eye at two 11 year olds just walkin’ and talkin’ by themselves on a major road.

Today, the kids would probably be taken away from the family for such disastrous parenting.

I mean, we didn’t actually do this, but, we definitely discussed it. 

Anyhow, I like Burwash Park. I coached my son in Peanut League there this year, and it was a really nice place to have a ball game. It has a little hill you can sit on and look out at the game! Here we are, after winning our first and only tournament game after having gone 7-7-1 on the season. We took the #1 seed the next day to extras. A battle! The best team won, though, that is for sure. 

A group of youth baseball players and coaches stand on a grassy hill for a photo. The players are kneeling in front wearing yellow uniforms.

Also, for real: any time you can get a crew of people together to play volleyball in the sand, you’ve got a good time on your hand. Ever done that? You should! Super fun, particularly if you can find some ringers to make it a better match. 

My advice? Take a big cooler of White Claws with you and call their bluff. Savoy ain’t gonna do shit about it.

Bottom line? Burwash Park : underrated gem. 

Top image by Maddie Rice.

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