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Playing in the 'inter-city'

The Intercity Park playground equipment is shown on Thursday afternoon in Worthington.2 / 3
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WORTHINGTON -- When Ren, the main character in the musical "Footloose," announces that he is moving to Beaumont, Texas, his friends exclaim, "Beaumont? Where the heck is Beaumont?"

Similar reactions and puzzled looks were elicited recently when some Worthingtonians were asked where Intercity Park was located.

"I've never heard of it, I don't know where it is," said Worthington Librarian Nancy Flynn.

"No, I have not heard of it," said Amanda Walljasper-Tate, who owns Schafer's Health & Gifts in downtown Worthington.

Recent high school graduate Peter Scholtes knew a little, but not much more than the adults.

"Nope, I don't know where it is, but I've maybe heard of it," Scholtes said. "The name rings a bell somewhere."

So, where is this mysterious Intercity Park? And what is it, anyway?

The park is located in the middle of the block bordered by Okabena Street, Burlington Avenue, Miller Street and Grand Avenue. It can be difficult for a newcomer to find, as the only entrances by car are three alleys -- and each alley converges on the park from a different direction. It is not overly different from -- or more abnormal than -- any other city park, but has the odd distinction of being located in the middle of a city block, surrounded by houses.

At one corner of the park stands a windowless warehouse building, but the rest of the park is occupied by ample green space, as well as a large, up-to-date playground, with equipment installed in 2012. A sign at the park explains that the new equipment was generously funded by Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation Inc. It is a haven for neighborhood kids, many of whom live near it and can be seen playing there.

This inner-city green space was obtained by warranty deed from Arden W. and Lucille Loelz, W. Craigen and Esther F. Thom in August 1950 for $600.

"There were neighborhood complaints that the area of the town had almost nothing for kids," recalled Ray Crippen, a former Daily Globe editor often recognized as a city historian. "The City Council got involved, and the park was created."

Intercity Park has served the youths and families of Worthington since 1950, and is an interesting "lost" place to visit in the heart of the city.