Smile Politely

Year of the Park, A to Z: Willis 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


Willis Park


853 N. Willis Ave., Champaign

Photo by Maddie Rice. 




This lil nugget of park is just .28 acres, and sits between Harvard and Tremont on… Willis Ave. in Champaign. On either side of those blocks, between Eureka and Maple, there are half blocks of park as well. It’s just three little pockets of grass with some trees, a nice flower bed, and nothing more. That’s perfectly OK! It’s been around since 1906, which makes it 115 years old in 2021.

Happy Birthday Willis Park! You are an old ass park! 

Photo by Maddie Rice. 


Since I live nearby, I am grateful for this little patch of grass. I’ve spent a few hours here on occasion, and it’s got some nice old growth trees, and it sort of reminds me of the type of park where The Giving Tree might have grown and developed its unhealthy and deeply painful relationship with the boy it came to love. 

That story is an important one. Read it again some time! 

Top image by Maddie Rice. 

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