BY CINDY TOOPES
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — "Park" is a favorite word for Ottumwans. People go there weekends and holidays to enjoy summer and visit with family and friends.
And they keep coming back to Ottumwa's parks. On Friday morning, campers were enjoying the shade and gentle breezes.
At Ottumwa Park Friday morning, Ron Simmons said he has lived in Ottumwa all of his life and retired from John Deere Ottumwa Works in 1994. Although he lives in Ottumwa, Simmons was reared in the Arrowhead and Cardinal School District.
"I was raised by people in the Camp Arrowhead area and ran with the Ottumwa kids," Simmons said. "I love the parks Ottumwa has."
Now, Simmons said his family is close enough to the park to hear people singing at a nearby church. His wife, Florence, loves Ottumwa. Simmons said his wife is originally from the Chariton area.
"I rescued her from the Des Moines ... area," he said. "She worked there until I came along. Our family uses the parks a lot."
Frances Beezley of Ottumwa enjoyed Friday morning at the Bark Park across U.S. Highway 63 from Ottumwa Park. She and her dog, Katie, spent part of the morning in the park. Katie could run around in the fenced-in area while Beezley sat at the picnic table and worked with her business log books.
Visiting the Ottumwa Public Library is another way to enjoy a hot summer day. The library is next to Central Park, which has a bandstand. Library director Sonja Ferrell said some children had come in for Story Hour. Readers can also sit outside on the benches in Central Park.
"Some people have come in to use the Internet," Ferrell said. "And the Vine is serving lunch in the park, and later there will be Live After Five."
From early morning time outside with your dog to evening activities the whole family can enjoy, the city's parks have summer opportunities for everyone. Brenda Hagedon, director of the Ottumwa Municipal Band, said a lot of people attend the band's performance on Thursday nights.
"It's a neat thing to get out and enjoy the park without spending money," Hagedon said.