BY CINDY A. JONES
During the holiday season, Roy Memorial Park is a dazzling display of lights that most residents know and love. You might not know the park holds a few stories that make it exceptional.
In 2019, a Roy resident realized that many of Roy City’s parks weren’t being called by their dedicated names, and that an approximately four-acre area west of the fire station did not have a name at all. The water retention basin in the area was occasionally referred to as “SIDS Pond.” This was because the SIDS Foundation had donated and planted 79 trees around the area in 1989 as a memorial to the infants who had died of SIDS the previous year.
After consulting Roy City Councilmember Joe Paul, a proposal was sent through the city council for the area to be named Memorial Park, and the area was officially named in August 2019. A few months later, the resident who had approached the city about naming the park (who wishes to remain anonymous) proposed a sign for the park and submitted two designs. Public Works created a sign from one of the submissions, illuminating the design in lights. The sign still stands at the park today.
The park’s popular holiday lights display was originally suggested by another Roy resident, Al Poppell, in 1998. The first sets of lights were donated by the families of Roy’s school children and hung by citizens. Eventually, Roy City Public Works took over the project, and today, over one million lights adorn the park during the holiday season. Crews work three months in advance to hang the lights in time for the holiday season and three months afterward to carefully remove and store them. The annual tree-lighting ceremony at Memorial Park, complete with local performing groups and Old Saint Nick himself, is a community favorite, with a small-town festival feel that draws crowds in the hundreds.
In 2018, the city began a program in which residents could purchase illuminated teddy bears to add to the holiday light display in memory of family members who had passed on. Through the last few years, hundreds of teddy bears have been purchased and added to the park, creating a “Teddy Bear Forest” and a meaningful tribute to lost loved ones.
In 2021, Roy City Councilmember Joe Paul gathered donations from residents and worked to improve a blessing box located on the park’s western side. The blessing box is among several facilitated by the city and acts as a place for residents to donate food, clothing, and toiletries for people in need. The blessing box at Memorial Park started as a small Eagle Scout project, and has been improved to include a larger box housed by a small, shed-like structure with metal shelves, as well as a concrete pad where the box is now anchored.
This year, while you’re out celebrating the season of giving and enjoying the sparkling lights, remember there is more to appreciate than meets the eye at Roy City’s Memorial Park.
Looking back, holiday history stories are fun to read. If you have an idea for a great article, please contact email@example.com