Alice Bertschy Kadish Park

I started this whole blog by explaining that I live with depression and anxiety and that walking has been a great way to alleviate some of my symptoms. While this is true, it’s not some magical panacea. I still experience the downs of depression and sometimes I’m wound so tight that it’s a wonder I haven’t burst. Today, for example, I’m feeling a bit low. It’s Saturday and I really should be getting out to visit a park or walk a trail, but it’s closing in on noon and I just managed to talk myself into taking a shower. I don’t know that a walk is in the cards for today.

My point, I suppose, is this: Walking is helping. I truly believe that the combination of exercise (mild though it may be) and getting outside is doing good things for my mental and physical health. But, walking isn’t the only thing I do. I go to therapy every other week. I take part in mindfulness meditation 5+ days a week. I keep up with daily self-esteem journaling. I take antidepressants. And I have a whole network of family and friends who help by just being there and being themselves. Even with all of that, the battle rages on and some days it gets me down. This is life with mental illness. It’s not something that gets cured or goes away, so all anyone can do is keep trying to manage it.

So today, despite having almost no energy and feeling a bit like a deflated balloon, I am here to tell you about another park. Why? One of the best parts of walking in Wisconsin is that you have memories to reflect upon when you’re feeling low. What better way to fight off a bit of the gloom and doom than to share those memories? Here we go.

Our second stop on February 25th was Alice Bertschy Kadish Park, more simply known as Kadish Park. Just across the street from Kilbourn Reservoir Park, Kadish Park is thought to be the first neighborhood-run park in Milwaukee. The park is maintained by the Children’s Outing Association, or COA, as part of their community development in the Riverwest area of Milwaukee. As it turns out, COA also is the entity in charge of the upkeep of Kilbourn Reservoir Park, and the two parks are sometimes lumped together as Kilbourn-Kadish Park.

WW Soccer
See? I told you there was more space across the street from Kilbourn!

Alice Bertschy Kadish, for whom the park is named, was a kindergarten teacher who worked for Milwaukee Public Schools. She was a dedicated educator and, along with her husband, one hell of a philanthropist. There are references to the Halbert & Alice Kadish Foundation all over the place around here: Milwaukee Public Television, the Florentine Opera Company, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, etc. And don’t forget the Alice Bertschy Kadish Memorial Weaving Center! Ms. Kadish apparently took a shine to weaving once she retired from the school system. After her death, Alice’s family worked with the powers that be to establish a center “to make weaving and fiber arts education available to people of all ages.” I guess you could say she’s really woven into the fabric of the community. (Sorry. I had to.)

WW Kadish
Here’s to you, Alice!

While the park has ample room for sports and other activities, Kadish Park’s real draw is the Selig-Joseph-Folz Amphitheater, named after three couples who have been (or were) strong supporters of COA: Bud and Sue Selig (yes, THE Bud Selig), Bonnie Bockl and Leon Joseph, and Richard and Susan Folz. Since 2008, the amphitheater has hosted the COA Youth & Family Centers’ free music series, known as the Skyline Music Series. The theater has also been utilized for other artistic endeavors, such as Shakespeare in the Park, and has even hosted a few wedding ceremonies (so says a Google search).

WW Amph Back
Grass seats for everyone!

I would really like to go back to Kadish Park in the late spring/early summer to see what the park looks like when the greenspace is a little more green. The COA website also suggests that there is a community garden project in the works at Kadish-Kilbourn, so I would love to see everything in bloom or watch people at work in the garden. Plus, it was a bit cool when we visited (thus the brevity) and the wind on the hill didn’t help; I imagine that a strong breeze is much more welcome in the warmer months.

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Happen to be near Riverwest? Here’s what you may need to know about Kadish Park!

  • During our short visit to Kadish Park, we only saw a few other people around, but the summer concert series pulls in around 1,000 spectators per performance. If you’re hoping to get good seats at the amphitheater, get there early.
  • I already warned you about the traffic in the surrounding area in yesterday’s post about Kilbourn Reservoir Park, but I’m going to say it again: BE CAREFUL. Cross at the crosswalk, look both ways several times, and make sure everyone crosses together. There’s safety (and visibility) in numbers.
  • As best I can tell, the park hours for Kadish (and Kilbourn) are 8AM to 10PM, but keep an eye out for signs that may say otherwise. Also, make sure to follow the park rules, as indicated by signs around the park(s). They may seem weird or unfair, but you’re not the one responsible for the park’s upkeep. You’re a guest in their house, after all.
  • This park has restrooms! Huzzah! Just remember that they may not be maintained (or functional) in the offseason. Fortunately, there are some businesses and restaurants nearby; if you have to go badly enough, you should be able to waddle over there before your bladder erupts.

And now, we link!
A Million-Dollar View, and Free Music, Too! (Riverwest Currents)
Alderman Helps Dedicate Alice Bertschy Kadish Park (City of Milwaukee/Alderman Mike D’Amato)
Milwaukee’s newest outdoor amphitheater soaks in the skyline (JSOnline)
Community Development in Riverwest/Harambee (COA Youth & Family Centers)
Selig-Joseph-Folz Amphitheater From the ground up (Urban Milwaukee)


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