After a thoroughly busy day last Saturday (after our 5+ mile walk, we drove to Mayville for Bierfest, and then drove back to Milwaukee for an Admirals game that I had won tickets to), our plan for Sunday was to spend the majority of the day watching cartoons. We were largely successful, but, of course, we also decided to hit up a local park. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves.
McCarty Park, located in the ‘burb of West Allis (aka Stallis), is another in the comparatively long list of Milwaukee County Parks. Approximately 52 acres (though one source suggested it was more like 60), McCarty Park is actually one of the smallest parks I’ve featured so far. Despite its size, this “little” park has a ton to offer. Like the larger Jackson Park, it has an outdoor pool (which is included with the outdoor pool pass), a lagoon, a playground, tennis and basketball courts, and even its own HELIOS Multigym.
Unlike Jackson Park, McCarty’s pool area includes a water slide and wading pool. (It’s not exactly the Dells, but any pool with a slide is automatically at least 10 times more fun on principle alone.) McCarty Park is also home to Zirkel Field, a baseball diamond/field with lights and a scoreboard, as well as “Pancho” Palesse Field, a softball field named for Orlando “Pancho” Palesse, a local WWII vet and driving force behind the McCarty Park Senior Softball League.
And now, time for some history! Development began on then-named Eckel Park (or Eckel Tract) in the mid-1940s, but was stalled a bit by the construction of WWII veteran housing units on park land. (That’s two WWII connections! Eat your heart out, History Channel.) These buildings existed until the early 1950s, and the park was subsequently renamed after long-time member (and board chair) of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, William McCarty.
The weather wasn’t spectacular on Sunday morning; a bit colder and windier than Saturday, and the skies were much greyer. Fortunately, McCarty Park was surprisingly full of life. There were dog walkers aplenty (including a very nice gentleman and his super adorable, if a bit feisty, mini schnauzer), a few families, and birds. Lots of birds. Mostly ducks, but we also caught glimpses of cardinals, finches, and even a woodpecker or two. The ducks, it would seem, were gathering en masse in an attempt to pair off. Some were quite clearly more successful than others, and a handful were getting a bit put out by the whole situation. It was both fascinating and hilarious to watch.
This is another park that I definitely want to visit again this spring or summer. McCarty Park looks like it puts the “green” in “greenspace” during the warmer seasons, and as alive as the park was on Sunday, I have to figure that the amount of life increases exponentially as the temperature climbs (especially if the ducks are generally successful in their endeavors). I look forward to finding out.
Heading to McCarty Park? Here are a few things that might be good to know:
- As a Milwaukee County Park, dogs are generally allowed; however, there are fines for having your pooch in a prohibited area, having your dog off-leash (unless you’re at an off-leash dog park, of course), and for not picking up after them. The fine for each was $200.50 for 2016/2017, and an officer or ranger can give you a citation even if they didn’t see it for themselves.
- The path around the lagoon is about .4 miles, but if you’re looking for a longer walk, there are other paths available throughout the park, including a portion of the Oak Leaf Trail. If you’re looking to do just about anything else park-y, McCarty still has you pretty well covered (including a sledding hill when the weather cooperates).
- The park itself is open from 6AM to 10PM. The pavilion (available to reserve year round, except for election days… and the day before election days) is open from 10AM to 10PM. There’s no A/C in the building, but there are ceiling fans and a fridge. That counts for something, right?
- Most parking is on the street, but there is a parking lot off Cleveland Ave near the baseball diamond. If you’re looking for public transit options, check out the Milwaukee County Transit System‘s site for help planning your trip.
And, of course, here are some additional links!
McCarty Park Map (Milwaukee County Parks)
History of the Parks (Milwaukee County)
Pancho Palesse – Official (Wisconsin Football Coaches Association)