Odin – City Park
By John & Barb Spears
Over the years until the present time, the Odin City Park has truly become a community park. The park ahs gone through many changes, thus showing that a small village can work together resulting in the accomplishment of a great park. The following documentation will reveal this journey:
The Band Shell as constructed in preparation for the Centennial celebration in 1960. The original Lions Club built a shelter for park activities in 1965. The Odin Grade and High Schools started using the park ball diamond for their games as part of the school’s ball diamond was being utilized for construction of additional classrooms. In 1979 the Lions Club reorganized and chose the park as a service project. They refurbished the existing outdoor restrooms, cleared and mowed the 200’X 400’ ground south of the ball diamond. The area was voluntarily mowed by Rollie Bartlett and Kenny Webster and trimmed by John Spears for several years. They moved the existing playground equipment which consisted of two swing sets and a set of teeter-totters to Lions Park. The small wooden shelter was moved from the north end fo the park to Lions Park. A merry-go-round was donated by Joe Chappel and put in Lions Park. In 1980 the Lions Members installed a horse shoe court at Lions Park, and the club hosted an Easter Egg Hung for the Odin children In 1981, the Lions repaired and painted the existing Lions Shelter in the North end of the park and prepared the area for its first Fun Festival to be held in September. Over 1,000 people attended the event which featured Raymond Woods’ barbecue and game stands. Proceeds were earmarked for a concession building near the baseball diamond. In 1982 the Lions Club built a 20’ x 40’ shelter adjacent to the existing shelter. The combined forces of the Odin Lions Club and Odin Fire Department have rekindled the type of July 4th celebration held in Odin during the 1960’s. During the year the school under the leadership of Supt. Raymond Woods, removed the old backstop and dugouts. They were replaced with a modern chain-link backstop, concrete block dugouts, and 90’ of fencing down the lines. The old lights were removed and the school provided the installation of a state-of-the-art lighting system. The following year the new dugouts were expanded by 8’ to accommodate the number of players. The Lions Club secured additional playground equipment from the closures of the Salem and Sandoval drive-ins for Lions Park.
In 1983 the school, under the direction of supt. Tom Smith, contacted Pepsi Cola and acquired the donation of a scoreboard for the baseball diamond. The Odin Lions Club purchased an 8’ x 16’ aluminum building for the purpose of a concession and announcing stand for the Odin City Park. Gates and the outfield fence were put into place on the baseball field. In 1984, the Band Shell, built for the 1960 Centennial Celebration, was demolished due to its deteriorating condition. The village removed the old concrete and wood bleachers, poured concrete pads and installed new aluminum bleachers. 1985 brought the Circus to town. Canam Brothers Circus, featured two shows under the Big Top, sponsored by Odin Lions Club and the Odin Fire Department. The village board authorized construction of a new concrete block concession stand with bathrooms. In 1986 members of the Odin Lions Club honored the town’s baseball and softball teams by erecting an 8’ x 24’ "Home of the Eagles" sign at the city park. The village moved all the playground equipment to the north end of the park in preparation of the new softball field in 1987. The summer girls softball team had been traveling to Centralia to play, and the addition of the t-ball league prompted the development of the second field. The ball field project was financed by $5,000 set aside by the Village Board and another $5,000 donated from the Bud Donnewald Golf Tourney. In 1988 the village contracted dugouts for the new softball field.
In 1990 a batting cage was added to the park. Funds were raised through profits from the concession stand, a donation for the village, and a matching grant form Wal-Mart. In 1992 the playground equipment, except for the swings, was removed because the village insurance company ruled it unsafe. A new shelter was built with a kitchen and bathrooms replacing the original Lions shelter by the village in 1995. A two-story storage and scoreboard building was constructed for the baseball field in 1996. The village also installed a cement walking track with lights. New playground equipment was erected along with a swing set in 2002. The village used money donated by citizens, memorials for Ellis Sill, and financed the balance. Labor was provided from Vandalia Correctional Center. On September 29, 1996, the Village of Odin celebrated a ribbon-cutting and dedication of the new play-ground equipment. Mayor Mick Kelly presented a plaque to Diane Sill in memory of her late husband, Ellis for donations to the park. The village contacted Pepsi Cola and secured a donation of a scoreboard for the softball field in 2003. "The Nest", a scoreboard booth, was built on top of the north dugout on the softball field. The first annual Family Fun Festival was held sponsored by the Village of Odin and the new ORDC committee. Between 500 and 600 residents gathered for free food, drinks, games, music, and socialization. In 2004 the village contracted for the building of a pavilion adjoining the present shelter. The old shelter was removed to make room for the pavilion. A temporary backstop for a third ball diamond, "The Hill" was put up. The Odin Township donated the funds to cover this addition.
In 2005 a new sign, "Home of the Lady Eagles" was installed replacing the old sign put up in 1986. Also, a new net for the batting cage was bought by the schools and the village. In 2006 the ball fields were named "Spears Fields" to honor John and Barb Spears for years of volunteered time at the park. They were presented with a framed Resolution at the Fun Day Festival. The sign "Spears Fields" was erected below the "Home of the Eagles and Lady Eagles" sign at the entrance of the park. In 2007, sixty loads of dirt were put on the ball fields by the village. Mick Kelly, Steve Ord, and John Beard worked many long hours accomplishing this project. The dirt was contributed by Pete Aydt II.
In 2008 vinyl siding was contracted for the storage/scoreboard building on the baseball field. Other repairs were also made at this time at the Village’s expense. A wireless remote for the scoreboard on the baseball field was purchased by the Odin Schools. Memorial park benches have been donated by the families of Virgil Steele, Jim smith, John "Bootie" chapel, and Crawford Hawley.
The park has entertained many activities throughout the years with Annual Easter Egg Hunts, Firemen’s Picnics, water fights, car shows, fireworks, gospel singings, church services, family reunions, birthday parties, school baseball and softball games, and cross country, summer t-ball, baseball , softball, and soccer games.
Our park is one of the nicer parks of any small towns in our area. Much of its growth has been due to the community-wide efforts from the village, schools, township, Odin Telephone Co., clubs and the many volunteers. The park is the best crime deterrent we have to give our youth. Let’s all continue to work together to promote one of the best assets we have to offer to our citizens.