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'Peekskill NY in Pictures' Remembers Depew Park from 1957

Peacocks at Depew Park, ice-skating, horse shoes and more.

After a Peekskill-Cortlandt Patch Facebook user shared a photo I posted on our own wall with the Peekskill NY in Pictures group, I clicked over to the group to check it out.

Their page is full of stories about Peekskill's history, memories of good times, photos from decades ago, as well as current photos, and much more.

As someone who has only lived in Peekskill for one year and is still learning about its rich history every day, this Facebook group is a wonderful glimpse into the people, places and stories of Peekskill's past.

The photo attached to this posting was posted on the Peekskill NY in Photos group by Richard Surak. He accompanied it with the following:

Then someone mentioned how beautiful is...all relative to what you remember it to be. It's nice but nowhere close to what we remember it to be for those that grew up there thru the 1960's & 1970's. There were more trees, bushes, better paved roads thru the park, the ducks & peacocks, larger Lake Mitchell (before it was filled in on the right side).We had brutal winters back then were the Lake would freeze for at least a good two months. Most of the kids played outside back then & there were many different groups all over the park. The gulley, just past the Fremont St. entrance, had nightly games of whiffle ball, kickball or football. The 'heads' would hang out up by the bandstand with 'cool' music blasting from their car speakers. There was always weed to be purchased there from a friend , for those that were into that stuff. My good pal Richie Papa once climbed to the very top of the bandstand to let out one of his famous Tarzan 'calls'.Always something to do up there back then!

The photo and comment sparked a thread with dozens of comments and 66 "likes." People reminisced about ice-skating, feeding the ducks, fireworks, wedding photos and peacocks! Were there really peacocks at the park? Are they still there?

Facebook user John Annacone responded to Surak:

 Yes, it was a beautiful park. Back in the 50's was my time to enjoy all the park had to offer, including fire works on the 4th of July. I remember playing baseball on the ball field and the soft ball field. As a young child my mom would take me to the kiddy pool. How great that was on a hot day. Older, I played horse shoes. There was a horse shoe league back then. It's all part of my past that can never be captured again. But all great memories.

I have not spent nearly enough time in Depew Park, but I have hiked through a few times and enjoyed the nature. 

Parents of today, is the park the same for you and your children? Tell us what you love about Depew or what you'd like to see. Is that sense of community, fun and safety still there?

Thank you very much to Richard Surak for allowing us to share his photo and comments. You can find the Peekskill NY in Photos page here. You can find regular posting of current photos of Peekskill and Cortlandt on our Facebook page here. Also, please follow us on Twitter and instagram (pkctpatch).

Liz Giegerich August 21, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Thanks for sharing Doug, and everyone. It is nice to hear about how people enjoy the park today and compare it to how it has been enjoyed in the past.
Jay August 21, 2012 at 03:07 PM
As a kid growing up in the 80's I too remember many of the things mentioned above. I grew up on Elm Street and me and the other neighbor hood kids lived at Depew Park. I remember when I was around five I would chase my mother around the old track as she would go jogging. I also remember taking field trips into the park with Woodside School in the fall the watch them make REAL maple syrup. We would all check the buckets on the trees and then bring them to a small shed where a man would boil the syrup into the good stuff! We would then poor the hot syrup on the snow and let it harden and boy what a treat. I haven't talked or thought of that memory for 25+ years. Thank you for making me remember. How sad it is that my kids cannot enjoy that same freedoms I once had. Now, living in LA we wouldn't let our kids run around like I did while I was growing up.
Jeff D May 01, 2013 at 06:34 PM
I Lived in Mahopac, but visited DePew park a few times in the early 70s. We had our elementary school field days there, around the track. I remember how beautiful the park was. And yes, as late as 1974 there were peacocks in the park.
John Finnigan October 08, 2013 at 10:28 PM
I live right next to Depew Park in a house My Grandmother purchase back in April of 1940, 73 years ago. Everything Richard Surak comments about Depew Park are very true. 4th of July parades would end in Depew Park at the Band Stand, festivities would go on all day long with the reading of the Decoration of Independence, patriotic sing along and Families picnic all day long, as darkness sets in take their place around Colao Field "the football field" for the Fireworks show. The Firework show had some of the greatest ground displays ever. The Peacock's lived in a cage next to the parks office, I recall hearing them mewing and roosting loudly at night. Winter in the park would include ice skating on Lake Mitchell or sled riding down from the football field toward Robin Drive and if you had a good run you could end up down on Union Ave. Old Depew Park surely has some great memories...
Vincent Brophy April 14, 2014 at 09:59 AM
Only daredevils went down Slide Rock with your sled. It was my cousin Michael's favorite run. He also was noted from taking his bike off the high dive at Memorial when he was a lifeguard. For his moreso leisurely, he swam from the Bear Mt. Bridge to Peekskill at night.

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