Designated as part of the Colt Industrial District, Colt Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in June 1976. During National Park and Recreation month, Friends of Colt Park President Donna Swarr spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about what she enjoys most about her involvement with the park.
NAN PRICE: How has the engagement with Colt Park been during the COVID-19 pandemic?
DONNA SWARR: Although our gates were closed to inhibit some of the activities that aren’t safe during COVID-19, we’ve had incredible usage of our parks for walking. Colt Park always had many people out walking their dogs, but now, we’re seeing a lot more people just going for a walk around the park. And, people have been following all the safety guidelines, wearing masks and social distancing.
Our parks are great for walking because you don’t bump into that many people. When you’re living in a city, a lot of people are walking up and down streets, so you always have to wear a mask. In a park, it’s a much more relaxing, rejuvenating experience than being out on the street and walking.
It’s also fun to see what’s new in Colt Park in terms of the construction, which has been happening since 2018. There have been some hiccups, but there have been a lot of gains, too.
NAN: What do you enjoy most about your job and being in Hartford?
DONNA: I live almost across the street from Colt Park and I have a very small yard. My proximity to Colt Park is like having a huge backyard in which to relax and invite friends over—and you don’t have to worry about cleaning your house! It’s a great place to meet up with my community and neighbors, make new friends, and meet those who recently moved nearby, because they’re usually bumbling around the park. I think that’s the biggest asset—getting to know your neighbors in a different way, in a very relaxed setting.
NAN: What do you think the community enjoys most about Colt Park?
DONNA: It’s a very popular spot for residents because it offers so much. Normally, without COVID-19 and the construction, we have about 2,000 people in the park every Sunday in the summer. A lot of that is due to several athletic leagues that play: the youth soccer and football leagues, the adult soccer team, the adult softball league the Amigos, a rugby team, a handball league, and the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) plays their kickball games there during the week and on the weekends. And we have the pool, of course, which is the most popular pool in the city. Unfortunately, it won’t be open this summer. We also have a spray pad and an all-ages, playscape that is usually heavily used and two brand-new basketball courts that are going to be reopened.
Colt Park is also part of the Coltsville Historical National Park. We have some historic buildings and a historic monument for Sam Colt up that’s a hot spot for visitors coming into the city—it helps draw them in to discover the park.
Normally, on Sundays between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. food vendors come into the park and there’s a DJ. It’s very family-oriented. Hopefully, next year everyone will be back in the park and we can really kick back and enjoy it. If you were to visit on a Sunday, you would just be wowed. That’s the only word for it: Wowed. Many people say they felt like they were in the Bronx. It’s so cool. It’s a very nice atmosphere.