San Antonians are invited to help open their newest park this weekend as Hemisfair unveils the first section of its redevelopment in Yanaguana Garden. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Drew Hicks, communications manager for the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp., adding that work toward Yanaguana started in 2009. Mayor Ivy Taylor and other officials will be on site Saturday, Oct. 3, for a ribbon cutting, but there’s fun planned throughout the weekend to help locals break in the park. “We’re going to have the city of San Antonio open its own park,” Hicks says. The 4.1-acre Yanaguana Garden is the first of a three-phase redevelopment at Hemisfair meant to help bring locals back into an area that was once vibrant. The second phase, Civic Park, is scheduled to open in 2018 and the third phase, Tower Park, in 2020 (read more about those developments here). “One of the things we seek to do here is really re-establish community,” Hicks said. Here’s a look at what to do while you’re there this weekend.
1. Play and Learn
Yanaguana Garden was created with families in mind. Designed by cognitive development expert Susan Goldman (who will be on site during the weekend), the park’s play areas are meant to help with education, too. Circular swings that hang in one area, for example, are known as vestibular learning stations because the motion they provide activates the vestibular system that helps with balance. The sand pit requires kids to work together to accomplish tasks, there are two climbing structures that test coordination and there’s even a pre-k area so the youngest visitors can learn in a playhouse and swings meant for them.
2. Grown-Up Fun
Playing isn’t relegated to kids at Yanaguana. Oversized checker and chessboards are built into the park so kids and adults alike can challenge one another. There are also stone ping-pong and foosball tables and a Bocce Ball court.
3. Be Creative
There are six public art pieces throughout Yanaguana that together make up a display being called PLAY. Among the featured pieces is the light blue “Play Theater,” which was created by Jennifer Khoshbin and utilizes metal plus a cut paper design technique to create a theater set that kids can look at or play in. Joey Fauerso’s “Campsite” also welcomes kids to play through its tent-like structures while Stuart Allen’s “Kite Table” offers a place to sit and play. Along with his piece, 1,000 kite-making kits have been donated and the artist will be at the park this weekend to get the crafting process started.
4. Splash Around
A splash pad sits near the climbing structures at Yanaguana that invites kids to be the boss by pressing over-sized buttons to make the water turn on. The area has lights and multiple spouts to allow for several groups to enjoy it at once.
5. Get Fit
The pathways in Yanaguana—some of which are lined by an LED-light pergola—will eventually connect to Hemisfair’s other two parks, allowing plenty of space to walk and run. For now, there’s a larger green space on the west side of Yanaguana plus places where public fitness events will take place. On Sunday, Oct. 4, look for free yoga demonstrations and more.
6. Eat and Drink
Some of Hemisfair’s historic homes are being turned into retail spots. They’re not open just yet but the first four retailers selected for the park will be on-hand this weekend to sample their products. Grab a beer from San Antonio Brewing Company, or cool off with a treat from Paleteria San Antonio. For the grand opening, there will also be food trucks on the property.
Yanaguana Garden Grand opening, Friday, 6 p.m.-midnight; Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., hemisfair.org
Kathleen Petty, San Antonio Magazine