By: Rebekah Trujillo
As you’re sitting on a blanket underneath the blue Texas sky, you sink your toes in the green grass. As you sit there you are listening and enjoying all of the chaos around you. You hear the splashes of people paddle boarding in Lady Bird Lake. You can feel the rush of wind as a dog sprints past you to retrieve the Frisbee just thrown by its owner. You can hear the laughter of a group of friends as they gather around a blanket having a picnic and enjoying each others company. This to me is Austin. More specifically this to me, and many others, is Zilker Park. Take in a breath of fresh air and remember to take a moment to say happy 100th birthday to Austin’s favorite green spot.
In 1917, Andrew Zilker donated 350 acres of land to the school district which was then sold to the city of Austin to create a space for a park. Since then, it has grown into the city’s most beloved spot. In such a crowed and a hectic city, the park allows for a place for relaxation, music festivals and enjoying nature. Zilker Park provides many options, and there is always something there for everybody. You can rent a kayak and paddle around Lady Bird Lake seeing the skyline of the city with the sun setting in the background. There is also a running track that goes around the lake which gives you the beauty of the lake without actually having to get in for those who prefer to stay on land. It has become one of the crown jewels of Austin not only for it’s residents, but also residents of surrounding cities.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, on Sunday April 9th, everything in the park was free. From admissions to Barton Creek Pool, kayaks and stand up paddle board rentals, all the way to parking was-you guessed it, completely free of charge. The city and all of the businesses in the neighborhood, saw the anniversary as an opportunity to highlight how lucky people are to have the park and wanted to celebrate it. The city of Austin also celebrated by opening the newly renovated caretaker cottage which is located right next to Barton Creek Pool as well as unveiling a Zilker 100 art sculpture which is the perfect picture stop.
“I can’t imagine living in Austin without having Zilker Park”, says Amy Martin, a University of Texas senior. “The park is my go-to place. It allows me to escape the stresses of school and gives me a chance to just relax and remember what life is all about. I grew up in a very small and quiet town. To go from that small community to this booming and crowded city was a shock. Every time I go to Zilker, it reminds me a little bit of home because it is so quiet and the pace is just always a little bit slower.”
The sentiments felt by Martin are also felt by others. Austin resident Travis Moore grew up in Austin and has fond memories of the park from childhood all the way to this past year.
“I remember going to the pool every Wednesday during the summer with my mom and my little brother”, said Moore. “We would spend all day just swimming around and enjoying the weather. Not being in school really helped with the fun too. Now I mainly go to the park for ACL and different concerts that are held there through out the year. I look forward to ACL the most though. It’s nice to have something to look forward to every year with my friends.”
The spot is more than just a park to the residents of Austin. It is best put by the Mayor of Austin, Mayor Adler, during is proclamation for Zilker 100, “Zilker Park is home to so much that makes Austin, Austin.” The park over the years has shaped and helped create the very unique identity of Austin. The best way to celebrate is to go out there and enjoy what Andrew Zilker gifted the city over 100 years ago. Bring your friends, dogs, and a good picnic and just relax and enjoy the beautiful Texas weather.
Photos By: Kiersten Ehr
Video By: Jesse Denier