Smile Politely

Year of the Park, A to Z: Toalson Park, Champaign

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


Toalson Park  


502 S. Bardeen, Champaign

a walking path in a park

Photo by Maddie Rice.


Robert Toalson dedicated a large portion of his adult life to the betterment of our parks system. He was the Director of the Champaign Park District for a whopping 31 years, and that is worth so much applause, by my standards. A man like this should have a statue in his park, ideally. Of course, that is a very very expensive endeavor, well beyond my reasonable expectations for spending tax dollars on park amenities, so I think the fact that CPD took the time and put in the effort to honor him with a new park in the north part of town is the kind of good stuff they should be doing.

Can you imagine running anything for this long? The number of season cycles alone is enough to boggle the mind. It’s 124 season cycles! I am a math whiz, y’all. Trust me. 

This park is situated in the Ashland Neighborhood just north of the Prospect Ave. commercial shopping area, and was donated by the The Atkins Group back in 2004, who also developed the land tract. There is a walking path, a volleyball court, a children’s playground, and outdoor grills, according to a post on

Photo by Maddie Rice. 


I’d never been to Toalson Park, and in this case, it’s one that I didn’t end up going to, in favor of just allowing our photographer to snap a few pictures for the write up. Try as I might, sometimes, I just don’t have the time. Peanut League is in full swing, and we’ve dropped two of our last three and I swear to God, there are some coaches on other teams that really like a rigged game. Total BS. I am changing my lineup card, and imploring our third base coach to send our boys home whenever it seems even remotely reasonable. These Dad’s wanna play hard ball, eh? Well, I can play hard ball too, you see? I can play hard ball. 

Anyhow, I’ll get out here to Toalson Park, however, before I rank every one of these Worst to First. 

Regardless, this is a very new park, and the trees are teeny tiny, and the space is full full sun right now, and that’s the way these things begin. Twenty or thirty years from now, it will be old growth, and tucked into a bigger and more substantial neighborhood, and the folks that own homes and rent apartments out this way will be very glad to have the work of the Champaign Park District at their disposal and for their recreation. This is what it’s all about folks. You do these things not just for the people living here today, but for the generations to come. 

Hey, guess who was in charge when the park was founded and then named after him? Yup, my Auntie Bobbie Herakovich. Here’s a plaque bearing her name: 

a plaque honoring Bobbie Herakovich

Photo by Maddie Rice. 

Hint Hint: I am hopeful that the next park that they construct and found in Champaign is named Herakovich Park. Or, they could take an existing one and rename it in her honor. I think they should turn West Side Park into Herakovich Park, quite frankly. After all, that’s what you do for those who dedicated their entire lives to the parks system. 

Top Image by Maddie Rice. 

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