TINICUM — Governor Printz Park in Tinicum was the hot spot to cool down in the county on Saturday afternoon.
The park, located right along the Delaware River off West Second Street, had a grand re-opening celebration after an approximately $2 million renovation to the open community space. New gazebos, a performance stage and band shell, bocce courts, a splash pad and a replicated Swedish farmstead cabin are new additions to the park to celebrate its historic roots and incorporate newer amenities for the park.
It is a place of pride for Tinicum Board of Commissioners Vice President Pat Barr.
“Everybody who was involved in this, or nearly everybody, has Tinicum roots and I like to call it the Tinicum talent,” said Barr at the official kick-off Saturday.
The generations of talent that helped build up the renovated park would not have such a beautiful place to build on had it not been for the first founders and occupants of the land.
The Lenni-Lenape Indians were the first people to inhabit the land. In the mid-1600’s Swedish statesman Johan Björnsson Printz came upon its shores and created a new government seat for the then-New Sweden Colony. Historical displays around the park show what the farmstead used to look like with an outline of the number of buildings that were located there. Barr said Saturday that the township is looking to bring over original log cabins from New Jersey to be placed permanently at Gov. Printz Park, but that will be a fundraising opportunity.
In recognition of its diverse history, the flags of the Lenni-Lenape Indians, Sweden, Tinicum and the United States all fly at the park.
Swedish Honorary Consul Olf Åkerblom said Saturday that he had visited the park a few times previously due to the intrigue of Swedish heritage in the Delaware Valley.
“Three years ago I saw this park and thought ‘this needs to be upgraded,’” he said. “Pat (Barr), you’ve really made a fantastic job. What I see here is beautiful, I love it.” Åkerblom complimented the recreational activities available at the park, singling out the bocce court because there is a court for the game right outside the royal palace in Stockholm.
“It’s really a big thing,” he said about the sport.
Åkerblom added, “It’s a beautiful gift to the people of Tinicum. I want to say how happy the Swedish government is, and the people of Sweden to see how the Swedish culture is taught in America by local historical societies and celebrated with such enthusiasm as you can see here.”
Board Vice President Barr so the project was accomplished without raising taxes on township residents. The funding came from the capacity enhancement program through the airport expansion deal signed in 2015 with Philadelphia, Delaware County and Interboro School District.
Saturday’s grand re-opening continued into the night with live music, sport tournaments, plenty of food options and a beer garden.