The city’s first tourist attraction, the Nativity Scene in the bluff that began bringing motorists out on the new Route 66 more than 60 years ago to see the realistic sand cave scene, may have competition as tourist attractions go.
Motorists, particularly after dark, are now drawn to ADAM’s Garden, the children’s memorial park in Lower Blackburn Park, located at the base of the bluff on West Osage at the top of Second Street.
“If you haven’t seen it at night, I would urge everyone to go and see it,” said Linda Bruns, Pacific Planning and Zoning Commission chair, at the closing of their recent meeting.
“It’s absolutely beautiful at night,” said Bruns, who happened upon the scene recently and stopped to admire it.
Bruns said a motorist from St. Louis stopped and asked, “What is this?”
Lights were added in the small park June 29 to illuminate the new flagpole donated by Pacific Eagles and the veterans memorial at the base of the mast.
Gina Pingleton and her husband Mark orchestrated the development of the park as a children’s memorial garden in memory of their son Adam who died Dec. 21, 2004, in an automobile accident.
Gina Pingleton envisioned a place where any parent who had lost a child could sit quietly and reflect on the life of their child.
Pingleton came up with the acronym ADAM’s (A Dad and Mom)’s Garden in memory of her son.
After contemplating a memorial garden for several years, a friend drew a design of the project that Pingleton described on his computer.
She envisioned a statue of a angel on a pedestal set in the center of a paved area faced by four park benches, one on each side, to provide a quiet place for parents to sit.
Wanting the park to represent all children whose lives had been lost, she offered the opportunity for other parents to purchase a brick, which would be engraved with the child’s name. Sale of the bricks also would help pay for the development of the memorial.
Pingleton contacted the city in 2009 looking for a place to locate a children’s memorial garden, her husband Mark recalled. She spoke with the Pacific Park Board and the Pacific Board of Aldermen with her idea.
Using her own resources and the sale of bricks, Pingleton began developing the memorial garden with no city money.
The first proposed location for the memorial garden was one of the 2008 flood buyout lots on South First Street, but after lengthy discussion, Pingleton asked to place it in Lower Blackburn Park.
After aldermen approved the garden and the location, city workers cleaned the overgrown area in front of the ground-level caves at the east edge of the small park. The ground was stripped and new donated sod was installed along with a large monument stone at the rear of the small park where the nameplate was attached.
“Other than the little bit of labor, ADAM’s garden was developed completely with private money,” said City Administrator Harold Selby. “No city funds were spent on the park.”
In November 2011, the first ceremony for parents to present their bricks to be added to the pavement was held. Since then, three additional brick ceremonies have been held.
To date, 103 engraved bricks have been placed in the walkway leading from the parking area next to the street, up to the angel and seating area.
On June 27, the flagpole, landscaping and lighting and veterans’ monuments were dedicated.
The children’s memorial garden is part of the city park system, and is maintained by the city. It is open to the public during park hours.
“The memorial garden turned out to be a great asset to the park system and to the city,” said Park Board President Stephen Flannery. “And it’s gratifying to see that other cities are now developing memorial parks like this. It feels good for Pacific to be in the lead.”
A waterfall is planned for the northwest corner of the park with all materials donated by US Silica and most of the work performed by volunteers.
The city has included paving the gravel parking area as one of 11 resurfacing projects to be completed by the city street departments.
Anyone wanting to purchase a brick to be inscribed with the name of a child and placed in the memorial garden can contact Pingleton at 636-257-5231. Or, they can pick up a form at Pacific City Hall, 300 Hoven Drive.