Dedicated to those who serve
Providence Village holds dedication of Hero Park
By Abigail Allen
Four years of work and planning have resulted in Hero Park, which was dedicated Saturday.
The park is intended to be a place to reflect on the service given by military members, first responders and unsung heroes, Mayor-Elect Linda Inman said in her speech.
“As the date approached for the completion and the dedication of the park, the goal was to finish before Veterans Day, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” Inman said.
She then asked each veteran, active duty military members and first responders to raise their hands so the crowd could applaud and celebrate them.
“Finally, our unsung heroes that walk among us every day,” Inman said. “They go above and beyond for our community. A nurse, a teacher, a business owner and a LovePacs coordinator. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This park is dedicated to all of them. A small token of our appreciation. A beautiful place to reflect, celebrate and honor your heroes.”
She also mentioned Eric Mattson, who is a veteran and was a firefighter before he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in October 2011, who wanted to see the park built.
“I think this came from a vision that Eric had, and to see it come to fruition within his lifetime I think is very important for him and for our foundation as a whole,” Karen Mattson said. “I’m sorry that he couldn’t be here due to his failing health, but I keep him posted and he’s seen many pictures and he’s super proud of everything.”
She was so happy to see the town push through the complications associated with getting the park constructed and opened, including a higher bid on the project and the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
“It’s amazing that it’s happening now, and that it is showing unity and appreciation for our first responders and all those on the frontline, including our teachers and all the unsung heroes that are helping others behind the scenes, so I think that it’s a great thing,” Karen said.
In addition to being one of the founders of the Providence Village Hope Foundation, Karen is the LovePacs Aubrey coordinator who Inman referenced in her speech.
“She is such an asset to our community,” Inman said. “She works so hard. The minute she took over LovePacs, it just all came together and she just has it down. She is incredible. … It’s people like her we need more of.”
In his address, Town Manager Brian Roberson also mentioned Eric’s vision for the park.
“It was a little over four years ago that Eric Mattson came to the Town Council and asked for a place to celebrate heroes—our veterans, active duty military, first responders and our unsung heroes that are running around the community every day in various forms,” Roberson said. “It’s finally here.”
A number of veterans, first responders and community members who qualify as unsung heroes were in attendance at the event, as were town officials and members of the Providence Village Hope Foundation board.
“It’s a great honor,” said Don Fisher, who is the vice president of the nonprofit and a veteran. “And it’s a great honor for Providence Village.”
New Hope Foundation board member and veteran Tyheshia Scott said she was happy to see the town dedicate a space to honoring people who serve others.
“It just goes further to show what a wonderful place that we live in,” Scott said. “And how, even in the midst of everything that is going on, we can still take time out to honor those [people] and do it in a way that everybody is masked up.”
She said that the park itself is beautiful and that she was not surprised that people have already been using it as a place to gather.
“It feels good to know that I live in a place that is thinking about more than just the moment, thinking about those that make the moment possible,” Scott said.