One of our oldest and most popular parks, Central Park is downtown within walking distance of the historic Square. The park has two shelters that guests may reserve, the Central Shelter or the Marlin Perkins Shelter. These pavilions are in the middle of the park on either side of the fountain. Just west of the fountain, the Marlin Perkins Shelter fits four tables and accommodates twenty-four people in comfort. The Marlin Perkins Shelter sits closer to the park's wading pool and is excellent for small gatherings and birthday parties. The Fair Acres Family YMCA manages reservations and pool hours for the wading area. The larger Central Shelter is closer to parking and the playground, making it perfect for larger families and events with children. It can hold six or more tables with an estimated capacity of 36. The Central Shelter is covered with a roof and has stairs leading up to a higher platform with a metal guardrail surrounding the building. With the bandstand elevation, it makes an ideal stage for concerts or events that need speakers. Restrooms are available; they attach to the bathhouse with a small wading pool behind. Both shelters have electricity and trash barrels. If you want to reserve a shelter or have any questions, call 417-237-7035.
Great for Events
Central Park is a beautiful, shaded place to host events in the town center with convenient access to parking. Many events occur here, such as weddings, reunions, church services, and more. A vast open space allows you to spread out and have enough room to put more tables and chairs out. The city host events that draw in large crowds throughout the year, like Food Truck Friday, Concerts in the Park, and several Maple Leaf Festival events.
In the middle of Central Park is a beautiful fountain. This Victorian fountain was placed in the center of the fish basin in the 1900s by the Carthage Federation of Clubs. The fountain is near a small wading pool built in the 1930s with a bathhouse connected. The Marlin Perkins statue sculpted and created by artists Bob Tommey and Bill Snow highlights the park's northwest sector. Perkins, born and raised in Carthage, grew up to be a herpetologist and later the director of the St. Louis Zoo. He created Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, which focused on wildlife and the animals that Perkins would handle. Perkins was a renowned zoologist and pioneering TV personality for wildlife documentaries and once joined Sir Edmond Hillary to explore the Himalayan Mountains and debunk the Abominable Snowman myth.
Central Park has a sidewalk surrounding the park's border that is excellent for walking and riding bikes. During warmer months, the Carthage Library will place pages from books on lawn signs around the walking trail for people to read. Playground equipment is on the northeast end of the park for kids to play and have fun sliding down the slide or running across the wooden bridge that connects to the playground. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars dedicated the memorial and flags on the south side of the park in memory of our fallen Vietnam Veterans.
Central Park is beautiful in the fall, with all the trees changing colors in Maple Leaf City. Photographers flock to capture fantastic views "up close and personal". The trees create a mind-blowing canopy of shade and color, and lead judges from America in Bloom to award the City of Carthage with "Best Tree Canopy in the United States". In early spring, crocuses blanket the park in purple, and wisteria graces the entrance archways to the park's corners. Throughout the summer, Central Park blooms with colors from gardens supported by Carthage area Garden clubs and area Master Gardeners.
Origin of Central Park
The original Central Park was a burial site for the Battle of Carthage casualties and named Pioneer Cemetery. In 1871, it was re-developed into a park, and the remains were re-buried in Springfield, MO, at the national cemetery. When light snow dusts the ground, you can drive by and vaguely see where the burial sites were laid.