In 2017 Alliance was on the center line for an amazing solar eclipse. We had visitors from all over the world. I was on the eclipse planning committee, and that weekend Earl and I hosted five speakers at the Alliance High School Performing Arts Center who shared information about the astronomy projects they were working on or the videos they were making. Each program had several hundred attendees, and we talked to many of them. People were amazed that the parks and recreation facilities were open to the public, and most activities were free. Universally, our guests commented on how beautiful Alliance is!
What were their comments based on? The Performing Arts Center is a grand facility. The open skies and Sandhills landscapes are like nothing most of our visitors had ever seen. But what made the biggest impression was our community’s parks, jewels which we continue to enjoy.
The Alliance Parks System runs through the center of town and is tied together by the Snake Creek trail. All day long you’ll see walkers, runners, and people on bicycles using the trail. Today if guests don’t bring bikes, there are locations along the trail where they can borrow a green bike provided by Activate Alliance.
Central Park has open spaces for games, a large playground, and picnic shelters. The sunken gardens are surrounded by majestic pillars. Central Park hosts the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center, the Sallows Military Museum, and the Conservatory. The Central Park Fountain was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1988 Alliance raised money to renovate the fountain, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On a summer evening, the fountain’s light-and-water show is entrancing.
Laing Lake is the centerpiece of the northern end of the park system and is a great place for fishing and canoeing, especially for kids. The park surrounding the lake has a disc golf course, skateboard park, playground, and shelters.
Many people travel with their pets. Wiggly Field Dog Park is located at 1603 Box Butte Avenue. Your dogs can enjoy 2 1/2 acres of fenced-in grassy freedom from sunrise to sundown! Amenities include drinking water, small wading pools, multiple cleanup bag stations, separate area for small dogs or dogs that need a private space, covered gazebo and stone benches. Handicapped access parking is available at Big Blue Bay swimming pool.
The Big Blue Bay swimming pool has water slides, diving boards, two water features, and a zero-entry area. Special times are set aside for lap swimming. Guests to Alliance often drop their kids off to swim while they visit the Alliance Public Library. The library offers wireless internet, computers, and places to sit and read.
The park system has four ball field areas with eight fields. The two tennis court areas are also used for basketball and pickleball. Scattered through the community we have several neighborhood parks and playgrounds.
In last week’s column I talked about all the activities in Alliance that we need to take our guests to: Carhenge, Dobby’s Frontier Town, Carnegie Arts Center, the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center, Sallows Military Museum, the Nebraska Veteran’s Cemetery, and Skyview Golf Course. We often take our attractions, museums, and parks for granted. Most are free or low cost. Our conversations during the 2017 Eclipse with people from all over the United States and several foreign countries made us realize that Alliance truly is an exceptional town. We have so many wonderful activities in our community, so much to be proud of!