PHOTO STORY: Historic Victory Park reopens in Buchanan

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

BUCHANAN — A park that has watched over the Northside neighborhood of Buchanan for decades has a new lease on life that was celebrated by the community Saturday.

Friends, family, community members and city officials gathered at Victory Park Saturday afternoon to celebrate its reopening. The event featured games, food. treats and fellowship at the park, which has been a prominent recreation location for years in the Northside neighborhood. The event also featured speeches from James Busby, Mayor Sean Denison, County Commissioner Mac Elliot, and Bishop Eddie L. Miller as well as a proclamation presentation from State Representative Brad Paquette before a ceremonial ribbon-cutting conducted by the Buchanan Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s my sincere hope that this park will serve as a symbol of community pride, a symbol of what can be achieved when we work together; When we commit ourselves to a goal into doing something good and worthwhile,” said Mayor Sean Denison.

A collaboration between the Northside neighborhood group consisting of Josetta Bibbs, Barb Kyles, Jeanie harris, John Brown, Frieda Hughes and Busby and Community Development Director Rich Murphy and Assistant Community Development Director Ashley Regal aimed at addressing the systemic challenges faced by the Northside neighborhood, the transformation of Victory Park totaling more than $175,000 includes the new pavilion, the expansion of park grounds, restoration of the basketball court and installation of new picnic tables, benches, signage and ADA-accessible amenities. 

Busby’s efforts also brought additional funds through the Schalon Foundation’s $25,000 grant. The project also includes educational modules on advocacy and governance, ensuring that the community can sustain these improvements for years to come.

The project was one of passion for Busby, whose family purchased the plot of land the park currently sits on when they moved to Buchanan from Arkansas in 1943. 

“It’s wonderful because you’ve had so much negativity from certain people over the last few years,” Busby said. “A lot of people didn’t even want us to have this here but you see turnout here – white people, black people – that’s what we’ve been wanting, everybody coming together.”

Victory Park nurtured many of Buchanan’s best athletes. A plaque was erected near the pavilion listing all-state athletes as well as Buchanan’s championship teams. For Busby and many others, the revitalization of the park meant a lot.

“All of us athletes on this plaque grew up right here in this park,” Busby said. “Members from the ‘76 and ‘78 team taught us how to play basketball. My grandmother’s house was right here and we would leave my grandmother’s house and go over to the park and come back to my grandmother’s house and she would have cookies and cake already made for us. It meant a lot.”