John Janega Memorial Park is one of the oldest parks in Lindenhurst, and the beautiful property has received a facelift in recent years. The wetlands have been restored, with boardwalks, and the new playground equipment was added with some unique, local character. The park is named after resident John Janega, who was the unofficial caretaker of the property. When the park was re-opened, features for kids were added to honor local sponsorse, and the 13 acre park was renamed from Willow Park, to John Janega Memorial Park.
The park sits between Hickory Drive and Hazelwood Avenue, with parking and playground frontage on Hazelwood. The gazebo and open space run along Hickory, where street parking is allowed. The first thing I noticed when we visited this park (besides thoughts of being lost because the village website lists the address on Hickory) was the wildlife on this apparent oasis in the middle of a subdivision. We heard frogs and saw a bunch of birds including a blue heron, and an egret. We parked on the street and proceeded through the lawn to the play structure and saw a beaver or muskrat swimming on the pond. When we left we saw a giant snapping turtle basking out in the pond, too. If you find yourself arriving on the Hickory side of the park thanks to your GPS and don’t want to walk the 100+ yards to the playground, continue north towards the stop sign, turn right and follow the road until you arrive at parking on Hazelwood.
At first glance the playground at Janega Park looks pretty standard. As we explored we realized that there are some charming, unique features. There’s a drum hidden in the main play structure. Around the playground there is a large Jeep that can hold 4 kids, a farmstand, barber shop, and large concrete lion, in addition to the swings. The ground cover is turf in some spots, mulch in others. There is also a small sand play area.
This park is perfect for kids who love to create make-believe worlds and get lost in pretend play. My kids were giddy as they played “town” and acted out all the different roles while running back and forth from one play feature to another. We had the place to ourselves, and they were so engrossed in our play I happily sat, uninterrupted, on a bench in peace.
There aren’t many shaded areas on the playground or larger park, but in the late afternoon you would find some relief as the sun drops behind the large, mature trees on the edge of the park.
Even though the playground isn’t huge, there is mature landscaping around the play features. Although all ages can enjoy the park, parents with young kids should note that there is open access to water and wetlands (mud) at the park, albeit far away from the playground area. While it adds to the little town feel of the park, the landscaping does create some blind spots. If you want your eyes on your kids at all times expect to be on the move.
There are two regular swings, an accessible swing, and two bucket swings. The climbing structure is large, and pretty high off the ground with one slide.
What’s your favorite neighborhood park?
John Janega Memorial Park
205 Hickory Dr., Lindenhurst (parking available off Hazelwood )
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