Arabi resident “paints” tribute to Carolyn ParkAug 5th, 2013 | By Candace Griffin | Category: Top Story
Longtime Arabi resident John Gebbia, along with his friend Brian Matzke, recently painted a mural at Carolyn Park that pays tribute to the fields that once stood there. They were given permission to paint the mural on a shipping container at the park. The mural is of a giant hornet, in remembrance of the old Carolyn Park mascot, and only took Gebbia and Matzke two days to complete.
According to Gebbia, gone are the days of neighborhood fields and booster clubs, and in their place stands Val Reiss Park, the new recreation facility. Pre-Hurricane Katrina almost every major neighborhood had its own recreation facility, but now the Parish has only one main park. This $20 million, 33-acre mega-facility in the heart of Chalmette includes eight baseball fields, two concession stands, and a 47,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose building—this facility is now home to all of the ball games in St. Bernard.
“One can argue that the neighborhoods didn’t have enough children after Katrina to support the individual parks,” said Gebbia. “One can also argue that the new facility keeps everything centrally located, but I really feel that this came at the expense of the individual neighborhoods.”
The most affected, to Gebbia, is Carolyn Park—his old stomping grounds where he played every sport from baseball, to soccer and volleyball. Also involved with the Park were Gebbia’s parents, who both held tenures as president of the booster club. He expressed that all of the neighborhood parks remain desolate, aside from being used as the occasional practice field, and hopes that one day individual parks will be able to make a comeback—this is what inspired him to pay homage Carolyn Park.
“I painted this mural as a reminder of what was once there: a home, a community, a part of my life that was filled with joy,” said Gebbia. “Hopefully this will bring awareness to those who support individual parks and booster clubs, and hopefully this will encourage others to support the initiative. We will never forget.”