One of the gems of downtown Raleigh is shining a little brighter this week. Pullen Park welcomed guests for the first time in two years last Saturday. Since 2009, the 124-year-old park has been closed to visitors as city workers completed a $6 million renovation to the playground and amusement center. Nestled in a 66-acre wooded tract on the southern edge of the city, Pullen Park is the first established public park in North Carolina, and the fifth oldest amusement park in the United States.

Pullen Park was a favorite destination for me as a child. I have fond memories of riding the steam train around the outskirts of the park with my mom and dad, racing my brothers to the classic carousel at the heart of the park, and feasting on Char-Grill burgers at the picnic shelter on sunny afternoons. As a father, I’m excited to share the park with my son as we continue making new memories at this one-of-a-kind place that has meant so much to generations of Raleigh residents over the years. In a world where school shootings and child suicides dominate the headlines, we need more places like Pullen Park, where kids are free to be kids, and a child-like spirit can get the best of us adults as well.

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