Archive for Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Shouts and Murmurs: Summertime fun in Tonganoxie

June 29, 2005

Summer is a good time to get out and see all that Tonganoxie has to offer.

Tuesday night, the city's third annual community band concert was scheduled. As of press time, raindrops had not cancelled the event. The concert makes good use of the stage at VFW Memorial Park, and generally there's a pretty good turnout -- both of musicians in the band and those who come to listen.

Meanwhile at the high school, students hired to help with the production of the community play are finishing up their work.

The play, "The Good Doctor," by Neil Simon, will be produced at 7 p.m. July 8 and 9 at Tonganoxie High School.

Every Saturday night downtown Tonganoxie is a popular place. At the east end near Annie's Country Jubilee, Tuna's Tavern and the Little Mom and Pop Shop, and at the west end, near Bichelmeyer's Steakhouse, cars line the streets.

While most small towns seem to have cookie-cutter swimming pools -- big rectangles surrounded by cement -- Tonganoxie's is different.

The pool, christened "Chief Tonganoxie Swimming Pool" when built in the late 1920s, has a unique shape. It's roundish. And it has an extra-large shallow section which comes in handy for the pre-swimmers.

This year the 9-foot-deep section of the pool has a new asset -- two enclosed slides.

Tonganoxie has a system of parks that the city, until recent years, had never known. With the combination of Chieftain Park, just east of the high school football field, and VFW Memorial Park, a block to the south, we have a park system that would be an asset to any city.

A sidewalk linking the two parks takes the walkers across two footbridges that traverse Tonganoxie Creek. The VFW Park, with its shelterhouses and tall trees, is the perfect place to find shade on a hot summer day.

The city is now working to develop Chieftain Trail, a walking trail that will link downtown with the swimming pool and Chieftain Park. Construction should begin next summer.

Readers might note how well VFW Memorial Park is maintained. Much of the credit for that goes to Bo Himpel, who, when he's not helping out at Himpel Lumber, takes his lawnmower to the park to keep it trimmed. It's a huge job, and one that benefits everyone in the community.

Other places to go in the evening include the high school and junior high tracks, which are quiet places where you can walk on a cushioned surface. A plus at the junior high track is that the scenery is pretty when the summer sun's setting behind Hubbel Hill.

In general, this part of Kansas is scenic and Tonganoxie is no exception. There are hills in all directions, and climbing country roads that lend vistas of the valley below. Newcomers on scenic country drives might want to include a detailed county map, just in case the curvy roads prove confusing.

The Leavenworth County State Fishing Lake is worth an evening's drive. Located about five miles northwest of Tonganoxie, the 155-acre lake is a popular fishing spot. And it's a good place to take a walk along the roads. The lake includes camping sites, boat ramps and two stone shelterhouses, which are large enough for family or group picnics.

Whether you've lived here for two weeks or 50 years, you just might want to take advantage of what Tonganoxie has to offer.

And summer is prime time to do that.

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