Donated to the city many, many years ago by one of the city’s oldest family’s, McDonald Park began to give space to local athlete’s as a park to play men’s softball, growing into the city’s first Little League Park, and used for girls softball teams until 2005, when it then became the city’s primary distribution center following Hurricane Katrina.
The park has been the scene of cheers and tears and its restoration has been guided by the city’s Recreation Committee made up of volunteers. In the summer of 2012 McDonald Park became the home to one of the city's most popular attractions for kids of all ages. The Splash Pad instantly became a hit to cool off during the summer sun. Along with the Splash Pad, visitors can enjoy the children's play area with slides, a rock wall and bouncers, or relax while having a picnic on the grounds of this revitalized park setting. Bathroom facilities are also available for visitors convenience.
McDonald Park is not finished yet and many more amenities are still in the works for this popular city park.
Work was recently completed at McDonald Park in Bay St. Louis for the “Happy Garden” dedicated to the late Happy Gaines. Donations by friends and relatives helped to create the memorial. The garden was designed by Liz Younghouse Seal and Katharine Truett Ohman to eventually be a well-shaded play spot for younger children along with a comfortable seating area for parents and others.
Twenty 15-gallon Crape Myrtles were planted in an inner and outer circle arrangement with ten trees to each. These included rotating Biloxi (pink) and Tuscarora (watermelon red) all planted by the Bay St. Louis Beautification Department under the direction of Jimmy Loiacano. With proper care and trimming, the trees will eventually create an interlocking circular canopy for children to enjoy especially during the warmer months. A centrally located black iron serpentine bench and a matching “Natchez” ornamental rubbish receptacle were also purchased from the donations.
A plaque on the bench is inscribed: “Happy” Garden - “Creative play is like a spring that bubbles up from deep within a child.” - Joan Almon. Another on the receptacle reads:
Katharine Ohman said, “The bench was purchased from Mississippi Prison Industries (MPI) with transporting it left to the City. But after learning about some problems that would have delayed us, MPI delivered it free of charge for which we are extremely grateful. Similarly, after ordering the plaques from M&MM’s Trophy, the owner furnished them as a donation. Most importantly we need to thank those friends of Happy Gaines who made possible a fitting tribute along with an area local kids will enjoy for generations to come.”
Mayor Les Fillingame and Helen Gaines (center) with others at the dedication of the 'Happy Garden' (photo by Jimmy Loiacano)