A hundred or more attended the dedication of Hamilton’s new Marcum Park alongside the Great Miami River three blocks north of High Street on Saturday. New dancing fountains were turned on for the first time, and the Hamilton High School Jazz Band added to the festivities.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, Joe and Sarah Marcum, for the creation of Marcum Park,” Mayor Pat Moeller said, to begin the dedication ceremony. “Your donation is the largest-ever private donation for a park in the city of Hamilton, and Marcum Park is an intersection of recreation, music and economic development.”
“Festivals, markets, families, and even those by themselves, during a lunch hour for a moment of solitude will call this park a home,” Moeller said. “I can also see a lot of wedding photos, prom-night pictures, senior pictures, all taking place at the beautiful Marcum Park.”
City Manager Joshua Smith, who was credited with making the park happen, told the crowd, “I am convinced Marcum Park will become Hamilton’s back yard, with tremendous space for both active and passive uses.”
Smith credited John Guidugli, the president and CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation, for having the idea to approach the Marcum family and put the park in its location, which includes the RiversEdge amphitheater.
Joe Marcum, who addressed the audience, said he was delighted by the description of the park as Hamilton’s “new living room,” given its location near the center of the city.
He noted he and his wife of 73 years, Sarah, both are Hamilton natives. He said he first saw her in eighth grade walking up the steps of the former Wilson Junior High School. “And, after eight years, we were married.”
They donated $3.5 million to the park and were named 2015 Hamilton Citizens of the Year.
Joe Marcum recalled a visit from Guidugli and Smith that led to the donation: “We had no idea what they were going to talk about. I figured it might involve money, but I didn’t know what it was. They appealed to us, and when I heard it was a six-acre park in downtown Hamilton, my gosh, what’s better than that if you can do something with that?”
“So, we agreed, and the kids agreed: Let’s give it away, let’s go for it,” Marcum said. He called Smith “a good salesman.”
Three of the Marcums’ four adult children attended. Marcum noted they also have 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Jim Fitton, chairman of the board of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy, said, “This park was thought of decades ago by our forefathers … and it’s finally coming to fruition, and again, it happens because there are people committed to this community like the Marcums, like the community foundation, like the parks conservancy board, like the city council, like and like and like.”