A time to celebrate: Sanford Park reopens after 4 years

Sanford sure does shine! 

From a catastrophic flood that caused chaos in the village to the shining example of what community really means, the small village has a big heart.

Four years after Sanford Lake heaved over its dam and banks and flooded the village park, it’s back! The park, located at the corner of West Saginaw Road and West Center Street, serves as a community hub, offering activities and amenities, including basketball courts, playgrounds, ball fields, pavilions, horseshoe pits, and fishing.

The first Little League program at this park began in 1969. Over the years, many kids from different communities showed up at the fields in Sanford Village Park to participate in America’s favorite pastime. After the tragic flooding in 2020, no kids showed up that year, but the community did. 

Andy ClarkDevastating flood damage of park before rebuild.

And it did take a village. Three Rivers Corporation served as the general contractor for the redesign and redevelopment of the park, but many other local businesses pitched in to help move the project along. 

“It took a lot of planning and a lot of people coming together,” says Andy Clark, baseball and softball committee chair and member of the youth sports executive board. “Dolores [Porte] deserves every piece of credit and more. That woman is a saint.” 

Porte, Sanford Village President, spent countless hours preparing grants for the Gerstacker Foundation, Strosacker Foundation, the H.H. Dow Foundation and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in order to fund the project in addition to working with the local community on contributions.

The Sanford Youth Sports League donated $65,000 of its fundraising money. Clare, Gladwin, and Northeast Little Leagues also donated to the Little League program. Dow contributed funds to the park. Community members and businesses created fundraisers, offered discounts, and sent volunteers to help at the park. 

Sports teams are ready and eager to get back to playing on their new home fields. The park now has 8 fields where the 320 kids will be playing this season. Thirty baseball and softball teams have been created this season that range from pre-K through 8th grade.

Clark says, “We have these companies that sponsor us every year. 55 percent of our funds come from local businesses and fundraising,” proving again how mighty this village is. After all the time, sweat, and tears poured into this park, they are finally ready for an opening day like no other.

On Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m., Sanford Youth Sports baseball and softball players will take to the field after a four-year absence. The opening day this year will be a celebration to showcase not only the park but also the spirit of the Sanford community. Porte says, “We’re going to recognize people for making it happen and make it a celebration.” The public is invited to attend the festivities beginning at 10 a.m. 

Enjoy music by Ross and Travis at 10 a.m., park dedication at 11 a.m., Harbor Sounds Chorus at 11:25 a.m., first pitch at 11:30 a.m., more music by Trav and Ross at noon, and, of course, ball games beginning at noon. You can even catch a Clydesdale horse ride to the local ice cream shop or get a high five from Midland County’s favorite baseball mascot - Lou E. Loon! Whatever you do at the celebration, it will be a great day in Sanford to play ball!

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Read more articles by Stephanie M. Yancer.

Stephanie M. Yancer is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors camping, kayaking, paddleboarding and sitting by the campfire. Stephanie is married to Justin, a U.S.M.C veteran and has three boys, a 21-year old and 6-year old twins. She graduated from Central Michigan University and is an alumna of Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority. She can be reached at StephanieYancer@gmail.com.