Exploring Piedmont Park’s Northwoods

One of Atlanta’s best features is its easy access to incredible outdoor experiences in the Appalachians. For this reason, many of us can’t imagine living in a city without a short drive to abundant natural space. But for those who feel a lot more relaxed outside, midweek in the city can start to feel a little too cramped. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for the weekend!

You are probably familiar with Piedmont Park’s popular destinations like the Meadow, or the Dog Parks, and all 200 plus acres of the Park are great places to spend some time outdoors. Just north of those locations, though, the paths lead you through a tucked away tree lined expansion to the Park. This is over 53 acres added in 2011 that boast nature trails and conservation areas, Legacy Fountain, the Northwoods, and the Piedmont Commons. After a brief foray through these paths you’re sure to find your breathing calmed and eyes open to the chirping birds, rustling chipmunks, and all the colors of life. Here are some amazing views in the Piedmont Park expansion that feel miles away from the city.

Where better in the Park to sit and read or write for an hour, or two, or three or four? You don’t get the distractions of festivals out here, just the ambient sounds of nature and the words on the page!

A short walk past the Conservancy offices is the Promenade Lawn, a beautiful clearing on a plateau in the treetops to the east.

A look at forest serenity, but only a stone’s throw from your door! Find the wooden staircase in the Walker Woods for these unpaved views.

Another great place to sit and read, you can find this stone mini-theater in the Six Springs Wetland near the Dog Parks.

Straight outta Narnia, you find yourself on the other side of the wardrobe in the Northwoods’ forested paths.

Author: William Lange

Over 900 Dogs at Splish Splash Doggie Bash

On October 6th and 7th, over 900 dogs had the time of their lives – courtesy of Piedmont Park Conservancy and its 10th annual Splish Splash Doggie Bash. This special event allows dogs to have the Piedmont Park Aquatic Center all to themselves and was a hit among the dog owners and lovers of Atlanta, so much so that it sold out! Lines formed early Saturday and Sunday morning full of excited pups of all shapes and sizes ready to get their paws wet and owners ready to make their dogs’ wildest dreams come true.

The Conservancy stocked the pool with tennis balls and Frisbees galore, and opened the gates to doggie heaven for all the anxious pups waiting outside. Whether it was swimming, playing fetch in the grass, or making new friends, the dogs had a blast. Thanks to Victory Brewing Company, the dog owners were able to kick back, grab a beer and watch their pups take it all in. After the first session of the weekend, many people thought just an hour and 15 minutes wasn’t enough for their loyal companions, so they purchased tickets for more sessions. Some even attended all of the sessions!

The dog vendors were also a highlight of this years’ event. Many vendors set up tables by the pool and displayed their products for the owners to choose from. Needless to say, many lucky pups went home with some tasty new treats.

Overall Splish Splash Doggie Bash was a huge success and raised necessary funds for the Conservancy’s three acre off-leash dog park. It’s definitely something you won’t want to miss in the coming years!

Author: Olivia Gage

Love dog events? Check out Doggie Dash which occurs every March!

New Exhibitat Welcomes Home the Chimney Swift

The Atlanta Audubon Society, in partnership with the Piedmont Park Conservancy, City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department, has installed a new home for an exceptional little bird known as the Chimney Swift. You may have already noticed the chimney-like tower in the northern area of Piedmont Park called the Piedmont Commons. It sits amidst a verdant field of flowers and grasses that will attract pollinators and other insects, which fosters a vibrant and exciting natural habitat for the chimney swift to prosper.

This new addition to wildlife preservation in Piedmont Park blends perfectly with the Conservancy’s Field Trip programs, bringing another unique and important education opportunity to the children of Atlanta as they interact with nature. The tower and surrounding area also presents a new beautiful aesthetic for all to enjoy in the North area of the Park!

The unveiling was a lively and creative event which kicked off with local nonprofits and artists participating in a chalk festival. Each chalk display showed a little piece of the organization’s soul and passion for Georgia conservation efforts, and proved that members of these organizations have no shortage of artistic skill!

Thank you, Krystal Collier and Kalia Edmonds, for your amazing chalk contribution!

Chalk Festival Winner: Sierra Club

After the festival, guests mingled and viewed the tower while enjoying cheese, fruit, and an Orpheus beer brewed specially for the occasion, aptly named “Little Birds Have Fast Hearts.” Since the Chimney Swift tower was the result of great partnerships between multiple nonprofits to bring a dream to life, there were many speakers contributing words of support and gratitude.

“If we are able to expose our kids to nature, I believe that we can solve a lot of the world’s problems,” says Piedmont Park Conservancy President & CEO Mark Banta, as he explains how this tower is a great addition to our camp and field trip program.

Finally, to celebrate the official grand opening of the tower, the event concluded with a ribbon cutting.

From Left to Right: Mark Banta, Jan Harralson, Dan Calvert, Jason Ward, Councilwoman Jennifer Ide, Lillie Kline, Nikki Belmonte, Ron Salzer, and Esther Stokes.

You may still be asking yourself, who is this bird, and what does the tower do for it?

The Chimney Swift loves living in tight spaces with a large group of other Chimney Swifts, and due to their very short legs, they can only perch on vertical surfaces. Over the years, this has led these birds to most commonly find a home in the chimneys of human houses. Chimneys, however, are on the decline, leaving many Chimney Swifts hard-pressed to find a suitable living situation. Piedmont Park’s new Chimney Swift tower will be the perfect new home for many as they begin to gather after their mating season. Don’t forget to watch for the little aerobatic birds coming and going from Piedmont Park’s new chimney!

Author: William Lange

All the Reasons You Can’t Miss Splish Splash Doggie Bash

Mark your calendars because on October 6 and 7, the Piedmont Park Conservancy is letting the dogs out, literally! Come celebrate the annual Splish Splash Doggie Bash with your pup and get your fill of selfies, fun, and puppy love. Hundreds of dogs leave this event every year with a smile on their face and a wagging tail, don’t let your dog miss out!

  1. Think about the photo ops! Your Instagram followers will be eating up that slow-mo video of your pup jumping in the pool, or the adorable moment when they make a friend, definitely not an opportunity you want to miss.
  2. The bar. Have a cold drink and mingle with fellow dog lovers while your dog explores and takes in all the excitement.
  3. THE GIVEAWAYS!! The Piedmont Park Conservancy has lots of friends in the dog community, and many of them will be giving away free swag.
  4. The proceeds help fund Piedmont Park Dog Parks. Want your dog to have a blast at the dog pool party of the year, and help maintain their favorite park? Bring them to Splish Splash!
  5. Last but definitely not least, the joy you’ll bring your pups by bringing them to Splish Splash. The Piedmont Park Conservancy pulls out all the stops for this event, and help bring your dog’s dream day to life!

Tickets are on sale now at piedmontpark.org/splishsplash. Get your tickets for the session that works best for you, but get them quick before they sell out!

Author: Olivia Gage

Party for Piedmont Park was a Benefit Bash

A silent auction that was far from quiet.

At the end of the night, it’s safe to assume guests had fun when you can still hear them singing “Purple Rain” as they make their way home. While Party for Piedmont Park is one of the most important events benefitting the Piedmont Park Conservancy, it is also a joyful celebration of the life of Piedmont Park. Great food, drinks, music, and auction items all contributed to a wonderful evening of support.

On Thursday, September 6, over 400 guests arrived at Greystone, a gorgeous venue hall with original granite walls overlooking the pool and Lake Clara Meer. A look into the crowd showed the beautiful diversity of Piedmont Park’s community. The Park exists for all Atlantans to enjoy, so it was no surprise to see people from many ages and walks of life showing up to support their favorite park.

The auction items were as diverse as the crowd. With artwork, furniture, sports paraphernalia, experience packages and more, there was something for everyone to get excited about bidding on. There aren’t many silent auctions where you can leave with a signed Matt Ryan jersey in one hand and gardening supplies in the other! Winning guests had a lot to boast over as they collected their items at the end of the night.

On top of the auction, guests enjoyed a plethora of lavish small bites from local establishments, including beverages and sushi by Park Tavern. The food stations lined the outside of the wing with the auction displays, so guests could pop over and try a new food before viewing the next bidding option.

Thank you to all who made the night so memorable, whether you were chilling by the pool, checking out the electric vehicle demonstration, getting silly at the photobooth, or dancing the night away!

For all you dog lovers out there, check out Splish Splash Doggie Bash on October 6 and 7! Piedmont Park’s pool will open up for your pup to swim and play. Register online before it fills up!

Author: William Lange


The Red Leash

Liz was smitten with Cooper the second she saw him. A friend told her that the local animal shelter was in the midst of an overcrowding problem and needed more than a few dogs to be adopted, so they were offering half off adoptions that weekend. Eager for a fur friend to keep her company, Liz pounced on the opportunity.

Cooper was seated towards the back of a small cage. The pup, a yellow lab with floppy ears that nearly covered his eyes, perked up when he spotted Liz. It was as if Cooper knew she was there to get him.

The cage opened, Liz picked him up and fastened a red leash to his new collar.

Liz lived in a sleek, high-rise apartment in Midtown. Their daily excursions consisted of a morning and nightly walk around the concrete jungle. Whenever Liz so much as looked in the direction of the red leash, Cooper would jump with excitement. He was so excited on these walks that he’d pull and pull away from the leash, eager for a chance to discover the world around him.

As time went on, however, the pulling began to lessen.  The red leash was no longer consistently taut.

Liz noticed this change of demeanor in Cooper, from the lively ball of energy that happily accompanied her on morning strolls, to something more somber…sadder. Liz asked friends in the area what she should do. They suggested things like changing his diet, buying him new toys, and giving him treats more often. She tried them all, but nothing seemed to work.

Her parents called to let her know about a dog park they’d heard about at Piedmont Park. Fortunately, the Park was only a few short blocks away!

She hurried home and got Cooper’s red leash from its hook.

When they took a turn they didn’t usually take on their walks, Cooper peered back at Liz to make sure they weren’t lost. He’d been his usual self—calm, slightly subdued.

Finally, they caught sight of the dog park, a huge expanse of mulched land, shaded by surrounding trees. Liz opened the gates to the park one by one. When they were inside, she reached down to unclip Cooper’s red leash. Cooper stood there.

Having become so used to keeping his red leash on while outside, Cooper didn’t realize it was off!

Liz encouraged him to go play with a little nudge. When he realized that his collar wasn’t connected to his leash, he barked happily and made a mad dash for a group of other fur friends huddled around the agility course. This was the most spirited Liz had seen him in weeks! He was running around, sticking his nose in new places and wagging his tail so hard, Liz thought it might fly off. She placed the red leash in her purse and watched Cooper explore.

Nowadays, Liz and Cooper visit the dog park on a weekly basis. Cooper couldn’t be happier with their new routine. He finally feels free to explore and is always ready to discover something new in nature. His red leash is no longer holding him back.

Greenspace is imperative in any large city. Benefits like improved air quality, resource conservation, urban beautification and space for anyone to roam around freely surrounded by nature are what make having it so important. The Piedmont Park Conservancy is proud to be a part of the effort to keep greenspaces like Piedmont Park safe, well-maintained and open for all to enjoy—including pups like Cooper!

Six Dogs Compete in Piedmont Park Dog of the Year Finals

Sookie, 2-year-old Samoyed, crowned winner

The contest took place in Piedmont Park’s small dog park and the finalists were all visibly excited to showcase their abilities. The doggos were to be judged on their behavior and charisma. While the finalists prepared for their routines, attendees enjoyed the wide array of goodies available including free King of Pops. As the humans mingled and the dogs played with the tennis balls scattered across the park, anticipation mounted for which pup would become Piedmont Park’s Dog of the Year.

At 11 a.m. the finalists lined up behind the stage, eager to strut their stuff. One by one, the dogs crossed the stage to cheers and hollers from the growing crowd for a pooch parade. After the parade, the finalists went into their individual performances.

Charlie, a golden doodle from Chamblee, showed off his sitting and walking skills. A 5-year-old Siberian husky named Azlan sang along to his owner’s harmonica and Bear, a 1-year-old Australian and German shepherd mix demonstrated his handshake skills. Sookie the Samoyed surprised the crowd by jumping through a hula hoop to catch her favorite toy—a tennis ball. Showcasing her expert running skills, Barefoot, an 18-month-old Siberian husky sprinted across the park. Finishing out the routines was Boston, a golden retriever who shook paws with his owner.

Ponce, our honorary judge and the winner of last year’s contest joined judges from Bark ATL, Dancing Dogs Yoga, and the Piedmont Park Conservancy to make final deliberations. After a short wait, Sookie was announced as the winner!

Sookie swept the judges off their feet with her hula hoop performance and charming charisma. We are so excited to have her as our Dog of the Year and look forward to having her help in promoting the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s vital role in enhancing one of the best places in Atlanta for pups—the Piedmont Park dog parks. For more information on our dog-friendly events and to support the dog parks visit: piedmontpark.org/dogparks

Photo Credit: OldSpeak Creative

 

Guest Post by Aliya Seymour

Recap: Runaway Bride 5K!

If you were in Piedmont Park last weekend and thought you saw a woman running in an ankle-length wedding dress, you weren’t just seeing things. Atlanta’s Run Away Bride 5K, a wedding-inspired race hosted by the Piedmont Park Conservancy, took place in the Park on Sunday, July 22.

Race participants, a medley of married, engaged and single folks, wore wedding attire of all kinds for this unique race benefiting the Conservancy. Many dressed up in fun veils and bowties, while others took it up a few notches, clad in full bridal garb. Park visitors were treated to a wedding processional of sorts as the runners made their way past! There were tutus, bouquets, bridesmaid’s dresses, and a 20-year-old bridal gown worn by its original owner, Carol, who also held an impromptu bouquet toss.

Thank you our runners for dressing up for the occasion; Exhale Spa for sponsoring the event; and W Hotel (Midtown), Spa Sydell, Urban Body Fitness and Dancing Dogs Yoga for providing prizes for our winners.

Guest Post by Aliya Seymour

 

Ryan and Sammi: A Dockside Proposal

Ryan and Sammi met as law students at the University of Florida. Friends at first, they grew closer when they both ended up moving to Orlando to begin their careers. Soon after, Ryan realized Sammi was the “one!”

With an engagement now on the horizon, Ryan set out to look for the perfect place to ask Sammi to marry him. He decided Atlanta would be an excellent option, a unique choice considering neither of them live in the city.

He scoured the net for the perfect place to propose, eventually deciding on Piedmont Park. Nestled in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, the Park offered a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Ryan wanted someplace that offered an air of seclusion, but wasn’t too much of a departure from typical outings in Atlanta’s midtown area.

Where in Piedmont Park did the proposal take place?

Ryan decided to propose to Sammi at Dockside, a lakeside location surrounded by a gorgeous array of trees.

“Aside from its undeniable beauty, the Dockside gave us an opportunity to have a fairly private moment in an outdoor setting,” he said.

The area was closed off and decorated with romantic standing flower bouquets and lit candles.

Sammi couldn’t believe how well Ryan had done at choosing a place that allowed them to feel like they were in their own little world.

“I’m still a little in shock at what a great job Ryan did at planning the proposal and what a gorgeous location he picked.  It was fairly private in that when we walked down the steps and onto the dock, the trees surrounding the water hid all the other people in the park.  It really felt like our own private moment.  And then when I said yes and Ryan stood back up, everyone who could see us through the trees clapped and yelled congratulations.  It was adorable!”

How did the Piedmont Park Conservancy help?

Jane Rollo, Director of Facility Rentals at the Piedmont Park Conservancy, was instrumental in helping to realize Ryan’s dream proposal. She directed him to Courtney Surber Paz, an Atlanta-area event planner, who assisted in coordinating the details.

“She helped me visualize the proposal setting, select and utilize the right florist to create a romantic proposal setting (and have the flowers moved back to our hotel room after the proposal itself), procure a driver, a violinist, and, of course, a photographer,” Ryan said.

Sammi was positively thrilled with the way the day turned out.

“Honestly, everything about it was amazing.  I was so surprised and overwhelmed in the best way possible, and the beauty of the park definitely contributed to that. It was the perfect proposal location.”

Final Verdict?

“We’re going to make a point of coming back to Atlanta, probably annually at least, to celebrate our special moment there. I cannot speak highly enough of my experience with the Park. From start to finish, the Conservancy staff helped Sammi and I have a wonderful experience in a wonderful setting. I trusted them with one of the most important moments of my life, and I was right to do so.”

If you are interested in renting out Dockside or another venue for your special day, or if you would like to tour wedding venues please visit: piedmontpark.org/weddings

 

Guest Post by Aliya Seymour

Six Ways Parks Can Help You Stay Healthy

Do you want to live a long, healthy, and happy life?

It’s easy. In fact, it’s as easy as a walk in the park.

Public parks are known for their beauty or recreational value. But the biggest benefit lies in what they can do for your physical and mental health.

Let’s have a look:

1. Parks encourage physical activity

Everybody knows regular exercise is the key to maintaining your health but very few manage to do it. In a survey, more than 75% of participants said that they want to be fit but only 31% said that they exercise on a regular basis.

One of the biggest problems is the absence of a convenient place like parks. This research confirms that people are a lot more likely to exercise if they are living near to a park. The participants mentioned parks as the most common place for exercise. Another study by the Rand Corporation reveals that 50% of all vigorous exercises take place in the parks.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine did a meta-analysis of various studies and concluded that awareness and access to places for exercise can result in a 48.4% increase in physical activity. It will improve aerobic capacity, flexibility, and help weight loss.

Even if you are not moving a muscle and just spending some time in the park, it will improve your perceived health and lower blood pressure, according to this study by Penn State University.

You should be aiming for a lot more than perception though. You don’t need anything fancy. Parks are the best place to follow a walking or jogging routine and just 20 – 30 minutes of running can transform your life.

2. Parks enhance your mood and mental health:

Are you feeling down? Stressed? Or depressed? One of the easiest ways to improve your mood is to go to a park.

These places have some magic about them.

Spending just 10 minutes in a park can improve your mood and reduce stress. Take a book for even better results because leisure activities in the park can improve your sense of wellness.

Research confirms that taking a stroll in natural surrounding can decrease mental activity that leads to depression. Not to forget that exercise is the best antidepressant and sometimes, as effective as drugs. Here’s another study that confirms spending time in the park can be relaxing for the mind.

Most of our mental issues stem from negative thinking. Parks can help you look at the positive side of things. A team of researchers analyzed 2.2 million tweets and found that the tweets from parks were more positive than the ones from residential areas or transport hubs.

The mental health benefits are not limited to mood enhancement. Research has shown that spending some time in parks can restore mental energy, improve short-term memory, improve concentration, and boost creativity.

Oh, and it will also improve your sleep quality so your mind gets the much-needed rest.

3. Green space improves the quality of life:

Green is the color of life.

It is often associated with nature, sense of wellbeing, harmony, and a clean environment. Studies confirm that people with a regular view of trees or greenery from their homes or offices are less likely to suffer from mental fatigue or depression.

Parks are the perfect place to de-stress and wind down after a hectic day. Looking at the greenery will alleviate your diastolic blood pressure. People feel more calm and relaxed when they are around plants and flowers.

Many hospitals have parks or gardens because it supports recovery and improves immune response. Research has shown than greenery can produce positive health, social and environmental outcomes. This is why horticulture therapy is used for mental health treatment, community-based programs, or prisons. People working in offices with natural elements report higher well-being.

4. Parks contribute to social wellbeing:

Loneliness can be twice as deadly as obesity. It is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social isolation leads to problems like dementia, blood pressure, and substance abuse. A meta-analytic review of 150 studies suggests that people with strong social connections have a 50% increased likelihood of survival, regardless of their age or health.

Park is a great place to meet new people and make friends. Research has shown that kids with close friends have higher self-esteem and they do better academically. Not only that, but they will grow up to become more confident and less depressive by the age of 25.

For seniors, living a socially active life means higher late life satisfaction and a less severe decline in the old age.

5. Environmental benefits of parks:

The health benefits of the parks are not limited to people who visit them. The trees and plants have tremendous environmental benefits for the entire neighborhood.

They improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. Harmful particles and gases like Nitrogen oxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, etc. are also taken care of.

They provide the much-needed shelter and keep the temperatures in control. They do it by absorbing water and releasing it in the air. NASA reported an increase of 5º to 8º degrees in Atlanta where 380,000 acres of trees were bulldozed. That’s how big of a difference they make.

Trees can also save water and prevent soil erosion. The lack of trees results in serious problems like heat-island-effect and smog. This is why the US Environmental protection agency recommends parks and green roofs to combat these problems.

6. Spend quality time with your loved ones:

Do you find it difficult to motivate your kids to be active?

A study found that kids living near the parks are more active. Physical activity or outdoor games are incredibly good for their physical, mental, and emotional development.

Research has shown that children who spend time with their fathers have improved self-esteem, higher IQ, better health, and they are less likely to get into trouble.

And it’s good for you too. In a survey, 46% of people said that their loved ones help them make healthy choices in life.

These are just some benefits but we’d love to hear from you. Are you a regular visitor to the park? How has it benefited you? Please share your thoughts and comments on this.

Guest Post by Sadaqut Ullah Khan
Author: Research Analyst and Writer at RunRepeat.com