AMIGOS DE PARQUE ZARAGOZA HONORS STAFF FROM THREE CITY OF AUSTIN PARKS AND RECREATION CENTERS AS ITS CINCO DE MAYO 2020 UNSUNG HEROES
City of Austin Parks and Recreation Center Staff Recognized for their role in keeping City of Austin Operational through Essential Worker Childcare
AUSTIN, TX (May 5, 2020) – Today, on Cinco de mayo, following a long practiced Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park and East Austin community tradition, the newly formed Amigos de Parque Zaragoza group, composed of David and Yolanda Capuchino, Johnny Limon, Raul Alvarez, Jesse Sepulveda and Jen Massing Harris, is honored to recognize this year’s Unsung Heroes. The award goes to the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department staff, who since March 19th, have been caring for City of Austin essential worker children at the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center, Northwest Recreation Center, and Dittmar Recreation Center.
During these challenging COVID-19 pandemic times, in order to keep City of Austin essential services operating and those worker’s families safe, the staff at these three facilities are enforcing strict regulations, such as only allowing children and staff into the buildings, practicing social distancing and maintaining small group sizes, as well as cleaning/sterilizing all materials used throughout the day.
“Our Unsung Heroes have risen above and beyond. Each individual recognized today has played a vital role in ensuring our City’s essential services are able to continue to service our East Austin Parque Zaragoza community and the greater City of Austin and Travis County areas,” Co-founder, Jen Massing Harris, Amigos de Parque Zaragoza, states. While many of us have done our part to shelter in place, these full-time and temporary PARD employees have stepped up to calls for action beyond what is in their original job descriptions.”
Amigos de Parque Zaragoza’s Co-founder David Capuchino adds: “Pandemic or not, we rise up for our community in East Austin, and especially at Parque Zaragoza. It’s simply second nature to help one another. We had a well-deserved long list of considerations for our Unsung Hero Award this year. As a retired supervisor from City of Austin Parks and Recreation, the vote was an easy one. And, I’ve known some of our Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center staff since they were kids. I’m proud of their bravery and them providing some continuity of life before COVID-19 to our City’s children. These guys are doing what Parks and Recreation does best - providing kids a safe, nurturing environmental space for growth through play.”
The complete list of the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center’s Cinco de Mayo 2020 Unsung Heroes in alphabetical order is: Chauncey Allen, Brittny Bell, David Blackwood, Christopher Brown, Darrick Cook, Alyssa De la Cruz, Terrence Dickson, Iliana Dominguez, Joseph Eglan, Nahjai Ellison, Marina Elzalde, Phyllis Evans, Danielle Franklin, George Freeman, James Freeman, Anthony Gonzales, Reyna Herrera, Darius Hinton, Leroy Houston, Lanelle Jarmon, Tondre King, Sonny Martinez, Stephanie Martinez, Rooseeveltt Matthews, Brandon Melton, Encarnacion Mendoza, David Messer, DeVon Odems, Hannah Ojeda, Jennifer Perez, Melik Perez, DJ Pettus, Ryan Reid, Antonia Riojas, Claudia Rocha, Mario Rojas, Victoria Sanchez, Mariah Silva, Jarvis Smith, Delores Spears, Amanda Stewart, Karen Torres, Mark Valadez, Manuel Villalobos, Da’Keon Whitley, Mia Williams and Tinora Williams.
ABOUT PARQUE ZARAGOZA NEIGHBORHOOD PARK:
Since the late 1920’s, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park has provided local residents a green space to enjoy. For multigenerational East Austin families, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park is remembered for its three and four day long Diez y Siez and Cinco de Mayo celebrations, Potluck Thanksgivings, Adult Amateur Baseball and Softball tournaments, synchronized swimming and annual neighborhood reunions. It has also served as a gathering place for activists in labor, human rights and social justice movements.
Though Parque Zaragoza was officially founded in 1931 when the City of Austin purchased 9.3 acres of land, it was in 1929 when the local Hispanic community petitioned the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department for a park of their own, originally named Zaragosa Park. Named for General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, notable for his role in defeating French troops at Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico, in 1862, Parque Zaragoza was originally intended as a segregated community resource for Mexican immigrants and has since grown into a cultural resource for all in East Austin.
Parque Zaragoza’s historic swimming pool is one of the City of Austin’s earliest man-made pools built in 1933 during the Great Depression and at the beginning of the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. At the time of the pool’s construction, the accompanying bathhouse/caretakers cottage was built, and was then expanded by the National Youth Association and community volunteers in 1941 to become a two-room recreation center, used until 1996.
Throughout all of Parque Zaragoza’s history, all grounds, facility improvements, as well as all community programming, were largely organized and maintained by the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center Advisory Board to which many of its members dedicated their entire lives of service. In 1980, the Advisory Board petitioned the City of Austin for a new recreation center and worked for 13 years to secure funding for it through its fiestas, ball games, Conjunto Fests and other fundraisers. In 1992, City of Austin voters approved the recreation center through a Capital Improvements Bond on that year’s ballot. In 1996, a 17,000-square-foot recreation center was constructed, with murals painted by Austin artist, Fidencio Durán, who was commissioned by the Arts In Public Places program.
In 2017, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park was designated a Lone Star Legacy Park by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) signifying its prominence in the local community and the State of Texas. From 2018 and 2019, several Austin Parks Foundation ACL Festival community park improvement grants have been awarded for a new playscape, play field fencing and pool canopy shade installations. Additional acreage was added over the years making the park over 15 acres.
ABOUT AMIGOS DE PARQUE ZARAGOZA:
Founded on Cinco de Mayo 2020, the mission of Amigos de Parque Zaragoza, a sister-group of the Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association [PZNA], is to pick up the baton from the great leaders who served on the original park boards and help facilitate new grounds and facility improvements for our community’s children and adults alike to benefit from and enjoy.
We are dedicated to bringing our community together through park activities, returning cherished, old traditions, as well as creating new ones. We are committed to the preservation of Parque Zaragoza’s legacy to tell its story for generations to come. And we believe our park’s story is just getting started. In the tradition of the community advocates before, we believe Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park is a place of celebration and unity.
A first goal is to start the planning and fundraising for Parque Zaragoza’s 90th Anniversary next Cinco de Mayo, as an opportunity to tell its complete story. We invite everyone in the community who has enjoyed Parque Zaragoza or made a past contribution to join. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . ¡Viva Parque Zaragoza!
Amigos de Parque Zaragoza -
Virtual Cinco de Mayo program -
Facebook Live for Virtual Cinco de Mayo program - https://www.facebook.com/AmigosdeParqueZaragoza
Amigos de Parque Zaragoza and contributors
Today, on Cinco de mayo, while we can not celebrate physically together, we will honor the history of this holiday to our East Austin Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park and surrounding community. We will a mixture of history, arts and crafts, music and bring back cherished, old traditions of our neighborhood's past. We hope you will enjoy. ¡Viva Parque Zaragoza!