Old Man Park gets a facelift

Hampton Hotels volunteer Ryan Gilhuly scrapes the roof of the info booth of the Suquamish Old Man Park. The Hampton Hotel Save-A-Landmark program brought over 25 volunteers to refurbish the community park.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Hampton Hotels volunteer Ryan Gilhuly scrapes the roof of the info booth of the Suquamish Old Man Park. The Hampton Hotel Save-A-Landmark program brought over 25 volunteers to refurbish the community park.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

First Hampton landmark

chosen in state.

SUQUAMISH — A throng of volunteers converged onto Old Man Park Thursday morning, armed with work gloves and good intentions.

The park, now complete with a new brick-laid fire pit, a refurbished path, newly laid bark and painted, polished signage, is the result of a day’s work from a group of about 30 individuals from across the nation.

To top it off, the beach is also now free of cigarette butts and has clean, scrubbed out barbecue grills.

The project was part of Hampton Hotels Save-a-Landmark program.

While some volunteers came from Seattle, Bremerton and Tacoma Hampton Hotels, others traveled from as far as Memphis, Tenn., and Los Angeles to restore Suquamish’s Old Man Park, where the revered Chief Seattle lived in a tribal longhouse before it was destroyed by Euro-American settlers.

The park is the 39th landmark in the program.

“It may be the 39th landmark but it’s the first Native American landmark, the first environmental one and the first one in Washington,” said Sheila Wright, regional director of products and services. “It’s great. Chief Seattle is a huge namesake for the area.”

The goal of Hampton’s Save-a-Landmark is to have at least one landmark restoration project in each state by 2010.

“Landmark gives an opportunity for teams to come back into their own community and give back,” Wright said. “We get to see so much of the country and the people who made it great.”

Old Man Park joins the ranks of Martin Luther King’s National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., Laura Ingalls Wilder’s homestead in De Smet, S.D., and Amelia Earhart’s Museum and birthplace in Atchison, Kan.

“We believe people are our biggest asset,” Wright said, adding Hampton Hotels has donated $2.5 million through its Save-a-Landmark program and hundreds of volunteer hours. “Becoming more involved in the community is just good for you. It just feels good inside.”

Shawn Carper, who works for Suquamish’s tribal government maintenance department, was also there with some of his fellow workers with paintbrushes in hand.

Busy repainting the white concrete barriers, he said he greatly appreciates the extra help refurbishing the parks grounds.

“This is great,” he said. “We actually take care of the park yearly since the state gave it back. We’ve been coordinating this for a couple months now. It’s great and you get to meet new folks.”

Ryan Gilhuly and Aimee Tylor who work at the Tacoma Hampton Hotel said they are excited to be part of the landmark program.

“We’ve waited our whole career to be part of a landmark project,” Tylor said, laughing she added, “it’s one that’s here, not in South Dakota. There are buffalo in South Dakota.”

Between the hard work and restorative projects, volunteers were able to have a little fun.

Team captain Lennart Bentsen of Burlington stayed busy giving his crew grief while lavishly explaining the hassles of retrieving water for his team members.

“I do all the dirty jobs,” he said with big, pretend feel-sorry-for-me eyes before breaking out in laughter.

“Oh jeez,” said Bremerton Hampton Hotel employee Sue Lane, while rolling her eyes “Am I going to have to duct tape your mouth, too?” For the record, no mouths were duct taped.

“This is a great program for (Hampton),” Lane said. “It’s fun, we are putting in real work for this community and getting to meet other people who work in the same company. It’s great.”

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