Smile Politely

Year of the Park, A to Z: Larson Park, Urbana


Larson Park 


1105 E. McHenry St., Urbana 

An image of a sign that states Larson Park

Photo by Maddie Rice. 


For anyone who grew up in southeast Urbana (like myself!), this park will always be Wheatfield to them. But hey hey hey, let’s just calm down a second, Mr. Nostalgia! Times must change, and we absolutely have to honor those who spend their time devoted to work that offers no financial remuneration and almost not recognition. This is now called Larson Park, and rightfully so! Bruce Larson spent 42 damned years on the Urbana Park Boad of Commissioners, and for a lot of it, he served as its president. Now that is community service, my friends. 

He lived an extraodinary life, too. He passed away at the age of 88, just a year after they named the park in his honor. You should truly read his obituary from the News-Gazette. What a remarkable time here on earth. You can also watch this video that the Urbana Park District published on him too, if you wish.

Nice work, Bruce. Thank you! 

The park itself has a lot to love, too. It’s small, and tucked into a neighborhood close to Yankee Ridge Elementary School, between Scovill and McHenry. There is a single tennis court, where I personally lost many matches to my friend Albert in the years 1988 – 1991, which was great. There is a nice playground for the kiddos, and a small walking path as well. There are lovely old growth trees to sit under for shade. This is a great park. 

An image of playground equipment at a park

An image of monkey bars on a playground

Above photos by Maddie Rice.


The best years of my childhood were spent under these big trees, and playing tennis on this court. When I got older, at night, I drank Zima under the stars, and smoked a little Thai stick there too. That isn’t recommended right now, of course, but it’s these sorts of memories that build something special inside of a person. 

My best friend Justin literally grew up next to it, and it was a place we went to hide, starting from age five and all the way up through high school. It’s never too crowded, and always calm and peaceful. The tennis court is well kept, and the trees truly provide marvelous shade for anyone looking to picnic in the park. 

Top image by Maddie Rice. 

Related Articles