I have always believed that all places have stories.
Special places that share tales with those willing to listen.
Open ears and hearts to those who came before us.
The kind of memories that live in scrapbooks and sidewalks.
Hidden moments like kisses to those we love,
And altars to those we’ve lost.
Our city is the greatest storyteller I have ever known.
In this city, there are stories everywhere you look.
Our homes, our cultura, our history.
All of this and at its center, Closter park.
Stories of this park spilled from the tongues of abuelas for generations.
The chimes of Paleteros lifting spirits with just one ring.
Eager kids watching the new pick-up game begin and then,
A new generation waiting for their turn on the court.
It’s funny how nothing ever changes.
Haunted by violence and loss,
Though beautiful, this park has held darkness and light.
A warning to return home before the street lights glow diminished.
Hope you wouldn’t see someone you knew on the five o’clock news.
The haven that opened its arms to many, forced barren by gangs and violence.
Stories that kept kids from coming too close.
So much time was spent thinking of the past and never the future.
Too scared that things could never change.
Though people might not see it, this park is as much home as this city.
This park has experienced joy when we hit our first home run,
And grief when another lost their lives on these streets.
She has been at every birthday and memorial.
This park was a childhood of merry-go-rounds,
Spinning fast and holding on for dear life.
A metaphor of how we would survive.
The lights and sounds of late-night cruising,
Kids up way past their bedtime snuggled on the floorboards of cruisers,
Learning how to duck low and hold on tight.
The way we were taught to play and the way we survive.
The love in every sidewalk and game of tag.
It’s memories of Arts and crafts at the rec center,
Checkers and ice cream days, Picnics after church,
Hansen Farms and Gin Market proudly displayed on baseball hats
Reminiscent of Salinas’s past
Stories shared from Michoacán elders about the great braceros.
Tree lighting in the park and appreciation for the farmworkers that carry this city.
Times where this park became a home to those who never had one.
A companion that watched generations leave this world and others grow old.
Closter Park, the heart of the East Side.
A monument of our strength, our courage, our resilience.
It tells a story of opportunity and change.
Salinas has its own history,
Just like this park and these streets.
We know the way people saw us,
A murder capital and home to violence.
We changed and created a new story for ourselves.
A town filled with dreamers that feed the world.
This community reclaimed this park,
And it has returned like a long-forgotten friend,
Picking up right where we left off.
Together we have given this city a new light,
Made this a home to all who needed it.
A love letter to those who live here.
Stories can change, this city and this park are proof of that.
And how powerful this community would be if we spoke more
about the things that connected us rather than what sets us apart.
A new chapter has begun with thousands of pages and so much to read.
Closter park, a book that’s waited so long to be read.
Eager for us to return and remember.
So together, let’s open the book, and let’s begin.