As several dozen people with flashlights and glowsticks crossed Prospect into Sunrise Overlook, the people making out in the old, black SUV probably thought they were about to be set upon by a throng of angry puritans. Instead, the group of senior citizens, teenagers, children, Gen Xers, and one infant stood around listening to one man talk about how in the 1970s the rose garden in Elizabeth Park was almost bulldozed. Under normal circumstances, the park is closed from dusk until dawn. If there is no evening event at the Pond House Cafe, it’s not unheard of to have a police spotlight directed into the eyes of someone using (or attempting to make use of) the park during unconventional hours, no matter how peaceably one is being. Fortunately, the Elizabeth Park website clearly states that no grilling is permitted.
After gazing at the city skyline, the tour recrossed Prospect Avenue, locating a small, unpaved footpath that had been recently mowed for the first time in years. Though hardly qualifying as difficult terrain, those lack night vision, agility, or a oneness with nature walked as if about the fall through a hidden trapdoor. It’s schadenfreude, pure and simple, for those of us who grew up in towns where street lights were rare objects. Except for one person pushing a stroller, nobody seemed to have any genuine trouble with the path, even if it ended right in front of an enormous felled tree.
This tour barely grazed the famous rose garden, though it is safe to assume that when the roses are in full bloom during June and July, more time is spent in that section. Instead, we wandered around the annual garden which was said to be on the verge of getting dug up so that bulbs could be planted. In the Spring, this area is covered in tulips.
It was getting late and I had not eaten dinner yet, so I cut out of the tour before it ended; before leaving, I listened to the guide talk about the Heritage Rose Garden. This section was recently remodeled, drastically.
From May until October free “full moon tours” embark from the Pond House at Elizabeth Park and then crisscross the grounds on both sides of Prospect Avenue. These stray from “just the facts”, as the guide inserts personal anecdotes and opinions. If you want simple facts, instead, you can turn to the Elizabeth Park website.
Start times vary based on time of sunset. The next Full Moon Tour (and last one of the season) will be leaving from the Pond House at 6:30 pm on October 22. The raindate for this is October 23rd, though I think I overheard the guide say he gave a tour during a snow storm. He also said that he has taken these tours into/past eleven in the evening. There is ample parking near the Pond House, as well as a bicycle rack to the right of it.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.