Iroquois Amphitheater 75th Anniversary Celebration

The Iroquois Amphitheater ended its 75th Anniversary season with a BANG! Wonderful performances by the University of Louisville Big Band Jazz Ensemble and Justin Paul Lewis.  Attendees  celebrated with a cocktail hour, tour of the facility and dancing onstage. In a special moment to commemorate this anniversary; past and present performers, musicians, crew members, ushers, and patrons were invited to join us for a photograph on stage.

75th group
Click to enlarge/save image.

If you were unable to attend the 75th Anniversary event, we also unveiled a short film (25 min.) depicting the history of the Amphitheater and its impact on the community. Check it out!


Metro Parks Golf & Pro Gary Player

Louisville Metro Parks
Community Relations Staff
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Gary Player is a South African professional golfer with nine major championship victories.  He is the only non-American to have won all four majors, and is often regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of golf. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. Player has won 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades. 

How does this relate to Metro Parks?

Player won his first PGA Tour at Seneca Golf Course on April 20, 1958, playing in the Kentucky Derby Open! 

Back seat: Pros Gary Player, Bob Fry and Jack Rule.
Front seat: Pro Arnold Palmer, Heisman Trophy winner John Lujack, and unknown driver.
Palmer-Player Exhibition match at Emeis Golf Course in Davenport, Iowa (1960’s)
Article from the Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon) – April, 21, 1958


Memorial Weekend Golf Special

For $20, a family of up to four members can play nine holes at any of the nine Metro Parks courses. The $20 includes greens and cart fees, and families can take advantage of the deal after 4:30 p.m. on May 26, 27 or 28.  Families should call in advance to book a tee time at the golf course of their choice.


About Metro Parks Golf

Louisville’s nine public golf courses are open from daylight to dark seven days a week, and each course has a fully stocked pro shop.

  • Bobby Nichols Golf Course, 4301 E. Pages Lane, 502/937-9051 (9 holes)
  • Charlie Vettiner Golf Course, 10207 Mary Dell Lane, 502/267-9958 (18 holes)
  • Cherokee Golf Course, 2501 Alexander Road, 502/458-9450 (9 holes)
  • Crescent Hill Golf Course, 3110 Brownsboro Road, 502/896-9193 (9 holes)
  • Iroquois Golf Course, 1501 Rundill Road, 502/363-9520 (18 holes)
  • Long Run Golf Course, 1605 Flat Rock Road, 502/245-9015 (18 holes)
  • Seneca Golf Course, 2300 Pee Wee Reese Blvd, 502/458-9298 (18 holes)
  • Shawnee Golf Course, 460 Northwestern Parkway, 502/776-9389 (18 holes)
  • Sun Valley Golf Course, 6505 Bethany Lane, 502/937-9228 (18 holes)

For more information, visit

Louisville’s Trees… Why Should You Care?

By Jacob Murphy
Communications Coordinator

“You can always tell a tree person just by the way they walk down the street,” said Dr. William Fountain, Extension Arboriculture Professor at the University of Kentucky, “Most folks are looking down when they walk. They look at their phone, the sidewalk, their feet, etcetera. But a tree person always has their head tilted up towards the tree tops.” 

Dr. William Fountain is the Extension Arboriculture Professor at the University of Kentucky

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never really thought in depth about trees.  Sure, I’ve climbed trees, read a book under a tree, raked leaves from a tree, collected firewood from a tree, etc., but until recently I hadn’t taken the time to understand the effects of trees and the impact they have on our lives.  Trees are like people;  they live, they grow, they die… and sometimes, just like people, looks can be deceiving.  I got the opportunity to tag along with Dr. Fountain and the city’s Forestry team during an inspection of trees managed by Metro Parks and it opened my eyes, to say the least.  

 “It looks healthy,” I said naively, “There are no dead limbs and there are even buds starting to appear.”

“Just because it looks healthy, doesn’t mean it is,” said Kevin Bold from the Division of Forestry, “Trees really are like people. They can be ill with a disease and no one would know until they were examined and diagnosed.”

The tree we were looking at had been diagnosed with a disease called Ganoderma. Ganoderma, which is often referred to as “Ganoderma butt rot,” is a tree disease that kills a tree from the inside out.  Once a tree is infected with Ganoderma the fungus begins to digest the wood, making it soft and sponge like.  Over time, the wood – so important for providing the strength necessary to hold the canopy upright – becomes  increasingly likely to fall during any sort of mild to severe weather, meaning high risk for injury to folks or homes that are nearby, in the event the tree would fall.

A parkway tree taken down due to Ganoderma. You can see the lines where the fungus had begun to digest the wood.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Ganoderma.  It is a disease that we see after trees have been subjected to environmental stress, and we have had plenty of that in recent years, said Fountain. We have had a number of droughts and these are mature trees in confined growing conditions.  Unlike trees growing in a natural environment our urban trees are forced to grow in areas where their roots are confined.  The airborne spores that cause the disease are everywhere and it spreads by infecting any wounds trees may have.

Displayed above is a sample of wood taken from a tree infected with Ganoderma. The wood becomes very weak and spongy.

Fredrick Law Olmsted, often considered the father of American landscape architecture, designed our parks and parkways. The pin oak was the species most commonly used in the Olmsted design and it seemed an obvious choice at the time.  The tree is easy to transplant and grows fast.  It gave a nice canopy cover for carriages and later, automobiles, as they moved through our city.  While lining the parkways with similar tree species of similar age creates an aesthetically pleasing visual, we have learned a lot about tree biology since Olmsted’s day and we now know that it is unwise to landscape with just a single species or with trees of all the same age because, typically, plant diseases spread only between closely related species. 

As with all other living organisms, trees eventually succumb to old age.  This happens a little more quickly when drought and the urban environment cause the trees to become stressed.  As you see trees disappear from our urban landscape, you will notice that they are being replaced with a diversity of different species.  This makes for a healthier urban forest and more interesting city.  This diversity of species will support an even greater number of wildlife species than we currently have.

“We have found 15 pin oaks in the past year that have been infected by Ganoderma,” said Landscape Manager, Dr. Mesude Duyar Ozyurekoglu, “Unfortunately, if a tree doesn’t have 30% or more of dense healthy wood, it has to come down.”

Displayed above is a tool used to measure tree density. A tiny (non-damaging) hole is drilled into the trunk of the tree, and the tool can sense how dense the wood is and indicate the density onto slips of pressure sensitive paper.

“Are we replacing the trees we take down?” I asked.

Mesude replied, “Yes, but not immediately.  The soil takes time to replenish nutrients after tree removal. And while we can take trees down year round, it’s best to plant trees during the dormant season – in the fall after leaf drop or early spring before budbreak.”

Mesude and her forestry team are responsible for over 15,000 trees in the parks and along the parkways in the city.   Metro Parks spends about $600,000 on the maintenance of these trees in an attempt to keep up with the damaging effects of storms, invasive pests, disease, neglect and age.

James Bruggers, environmental writer for the Courier-Journal, wrote an article in October of 2011 about the poor health of Louisville’s trees and the lack of effort there seems to be to protect and preserve the city’s urban canopy.  Bruggers mentions that Margaret Carreiro, a University of Louisville biology professor who has been studying Louisville’s trees with her students for 10 years,  estimates there are still as many as 3 million trees in the city’s residential areas alone. So, if $600,000 is barely enough for every 15,000 trees the city has, what would it take to provide sufficient care for Louisville’s entire urban canopy?

On November 11, 2011, Mayor Fischer announced the creation of the Louisville Metro Tree Advisory Commission with the goal to plant more trees and take better care of existing ones.  This is tremendous for tree health in Louisville, but the tree commission will need support from citizens to be effective.  Louisvillians have to make our city’s tree canopy a priority, or our future won’t have one. 

The Tree Commission will help in:

  • Advising city leaders on issues affecting Louisville’s urban forest;
  • Providing input in the selection and placement of trees on all city-owned property and public developments;
  • Educating the community and departments and agencies of Louisville Metro regarding the value of trees and proper ways to plant, maintain, and remove trees;
  • Serving as an advocate for the ongoing renewal of Louisville’s urban forest;
  • Creating a public tree fund with private donations;
  • Monitoring and gathering data and publishing reports about the status of Louisville’s tree canopy.

With no offense intended for our canine friends, it is often said that a city without trees isn’t fit for a dog.  Trees add scale to our urban infrastructure.  They provide shade on our hot summer days and cool and purify the air that we depend on for life.  We only seem to notice these giants as they begin to decline and leave our city.  The trees that we are losing were a gift to us from previous generations.   The best way for us to thank our great grandparents is to provide our grandchildren and their children with a healthy and beautiful urban forest… and the knowledge that these gentle giants hold must be cared for.  Trees are like people, our companions, and they deserve our appreciation. Have you thanked a tree today?

(It would not have been possible to write this article without the help and support of some kind and talented people, to only some of whom it is possible to give particular mention here. A special thanks goes to Dr. Fountain for his wisdom and guidance. Also, Mesude Duyar Ozyurekoglu for allowing me the opportunity to shadow her Forestry team. I would also like to thank Kevin Bold, Mike Blankenship and the entire Metro Parks Forestry Division for their never-ending hard work.)

The Haunted Mansion at Joe Creason Park

By Jacob Murphy
Communications Coordinator

Oh, October. You are the heart of the fall season and the beacon that beckons all things spooky to crawl from the shadows. As the leaves diminish to their graves beneath the tree tops, an eerie feeling resonates and not even Metro Parks can escape October’s ghostly grasp.  

Haunted Mansion at Joe Creason Park
The "haunted" Metro Parks administration building at Joe Creason Park

If you’ve ever been to Joe Creason Park, you probably noticed the red bricked mansion that sits adjacent to the children’s playground.  And you might know that the building currently houses the Metro Parks administration team. Less likely is that you know the history behind the house, the hauntings that folks have witnessed there and the close proximity of a graveyard where the original landowner’s (Robert Daniel, 1789) daughter rests… perhaps not so peacefully.

Many Metro Parks employees that have worked in the mansion will tell you it is haunted.  They swear by their unnerving tales of being alone in the building hearing voices, doors creaking, lights flickering, empty elevators rising and of course, the occasional cold chill. 

Maybe it’s the bombardment of haunted house advertisements and reruns of poorly acted horror films that have made me a bit skeptical, but these stories just sound like paranoia to me.  Sure, the house is old and October can be creepy. But ghosts in an old mansion are a bit cliché, even for me. 

Now, I won’t dive too deep into the building’s history here (links below), but the current version was built in 1944 on the foundation of a previous 154-year old home that had burned down.  A gentleman named Ben Collings, who owned the land at the time, wanted to make sure his house never burned down again, so Collings rebuilt the building with eight-inch-thick reinforced concrete walls faced with brick, concrete floors and a copper-and-slate roof.  

Admittedly, the mansion sounds like a building that the protagonist of a Stephen King thriller would unfortunately have to survive the night in.  With a good thunder storm to set the mood, the mansion could easily transform into a horrifying abode, housing all things that go bump-in-the-night. 

So, is Mr. Collings trying to spook us out of his fire-proof house by flipping light switches and pressing elevator buttons? Is the deceased daughter of Robert Daniel wondering the halls providing cold chills as she looks for company?  I doubt we will ever know the answers, but it is a bit creepy to think about as I sit in the mansion writing this…

Link to Joe Creason Park history:


Saturday event to showcase what’s new on the Louisville Loop

Community Outreach Supervisor
E-mail Walter

An event Saturday affords Metro Parks an opportunity to update and connect you to one of the most innovative parks initiatives in the country.

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Louisville continues the fight to reduce childhood obesity, increase citizens’ access to healthier foods and get citizens active.  Louisville will focus on seven initiatives.  Metro Parks is heavily involved in two of those: 

  • Increase access to Louisville Metro Parks and Louisville Loop using public transit
  • Enhance infrastructure to support bicycling and walking

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., we’re hosting Discover the Loop a health-conscious parks event focused on introducing some and reuniting others with the new Louisville Loop.  

The event will take place at Lannan Park (in the Portland Neighborhood) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is the first of several public events in which we’ll highlight the Loop and the opportunities it offers for promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. 

To make this event a success, we need your help.  We recognize the importance of Neighborhood Associations and other neighborhood-based organizations, and hope that you will join us through your participation and promotion of this and other loop-related events. 

The event will take place on the east end of Lannan Park. Mayor Greg Fischer, Metro Parks Director Mike Heitz, TARC Executive Director Barry Barker and Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness Director Dr. Matt Zahn will be in attendance and will speak at a press conference at 11 a.m.

TARC has become a great partner in promoting the Louisville Loop, and they will be showing off a couple of buses specifically dedicated to connecting people to it.

The event also gives us a chance to unveil the new Louisville Loop website, which includes video, a blog, a Louisville Loop store and lots of fun stuff.

Come and join us Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.!

This year’s Light Up Louisville holiday tree a labor of love for local couple

Thelma and Ben Alley of Louisville donated their 45-foot blue spruce to serve as this year's official Light Up Louisville Holiday Tree.


Communications Manager
E-Mail Margaret

This year’s Light Up Louisville Christmas tree will be a 45-foot tall blue spruce donated by Thelma and Ben Alley of Louisville. When the Alleys moved into their house on Southern Parkway in July 1984, the couple remembers the previous owner, Mr. William Knapper, pointing out one unique feature. It was a blue spruce in the center of the front yard, standing about eight feet tall. Mr. Knapper told the couple the tree was given to him as a sapling by an Army buddy.

 He planted the knee-high blue spruce and never thought it would amount to anything. But the Alleys watched it grow and the tree became a part of their family. In 1986, the tree was infected by spider mites and the top half looked dead. But Ben and Thelma refused to let it go. The couple got rid of the pests and nursed the tree back to health.

Over the years, the spruce, their house and their family were tied together. Visitors would be guided to their house by looking for the big blue spruce in the front yard – it couldn’t be missed. Over the last couple of years, the Alleys talked about cutting down the tree. “It’s taking over the yard,” they said.

In mid October, they had a new plan. Mayor-elect Greg Fischer knocked on the couple’s door while campaigning and commented on the beauty of the spruce. The Alley’s expressed their desire for a little more yard space. Fischer informed them of an article in the paper that very day with information that Metro Parks was searching for the city’s holiday tree. Thelma immediately called. She thought this was a great way to honor Mr. Knapper’s tree.

The Alleys are thrilled their tree was selected and immediately called their friends and family to share the news. They are looking forward to Light up Louisville and eager to share the tree they took care of for over 26 years with the entire city.

Partnership with E-Corps program results in improvements at Tom Wallace

From the Natural Areas Division
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This summer, the Natural Areas Division continued its invaluable partnership with Youthbuild Louisville’s E-corps program. 

With the support of E-corps, a small crew of young adults was given the opportunity to gain job skills while helping improve the Forest and other natural areas.  This past summer, their focus was largely on removing invasive plants and trail work. 

In particular, visitors to the Tom Wallace will notice a significant improvement as we seek to eradicate invasive plants like autumn olive and Japanese honeysuckle from the area. 

Efforts to date have removed competition pressure from these invasive plants and are allowing the understory of oak, hickories and other native tree species to assume dominance

The existing path from the fishing pier to the dam around the lake was created by 60-plus years of park users and eroding badly, before volunteers stepped in.

over time in the canopy. This is a long-term project and we will continue these efforts as necessary in the immediate vicinity of Tom Wallace Lake before moving to other areas.

In addition, the crew helped with much-needed improvements to the existing “trail” around Tom Wallace Lake.  The existing path from the fishing pier to the dam around the lake was created by 60-plus years of park users.  Unsustainable from the start, this trail has eroded for years and the impact to shoreline trees has become severe. 

The new trail is designed at a very easy grade of 5% or less and allows improved access to park users around the lake to the dam.  This winter, the project continues to extend the sustainable path around the remainder of the lake. 

These improvements are largely in-house projects designed to provide users with an improved visitor experience in the short-term until more capital intensive improvements to Tom Wallace are made as part of implementation of the Forest Master Plan. 

  • This article appeared in the Fall Jefferson Memorial Forest newsletter. To read the newsletter, please click here.