Many facets of Friendship Park
Published 7:00 am Friday, June 6, 2014
Friendship Park sits on about 46 acres and features 14 baseball fields, two football fields, a soccer field, tennis court, batting cages, concession stands and a playground with a gazebo.
It is home to the Picayune Youth Athletic Association which provides hundreds of local children hometown athletics.
It is under the management of city of Picayune Parks Director Heath Stevens.
Picayune Main Street Manager Reba Beebe recalls that the first 15 acres of Friendship Park were donated by the Crosby family.
After the park was established, City of Picayune Operations Manager Harvey Miller coached youth sports teams at Friendship Park.
“I’ve coached for 20 seasons at that park,” Miller said.
Later, Huey Stockstill donated another 29 acres of land for construction of ball fields, Miller said.
Huey Stockstill, Jr. said that many of his employees at the time had children who played ball at the park, which was in dire need of space and better fields.
Once the ball fields were constructed, the community got together and built the playground using funds collected in a fundraiser entitled “Pennies for Your Park” in 1995. A second “Pennies for Your Park” was held approximately 13 years later.
Beebe said community support for the park has grown steadily over the years because it is a big part of people’s lives.
The second time we built the playground, we raised over $120,000, which went strictly to park materials because the labor portion was done by volunteers, Beebe said.
Today, city officials are working to draw regional tournaments to the park.
This weekend, the United States Specialty Sports Association will hold its Firecracker Classic National Invitational Tournament at Friendship Park, which will bring between 80 to 100 teams of ballplayers to town, Stevens said.
Each team has 12 players and three coaches, in addition to parents and other family members traveling with them, bringing a major tourism opportunity to the city of Picayune.
Beebe and Greater Picayune Area of Commerce Director April Lovelace have advised local businesses to be prepared.
“We are so excited for this opportunity to share our park and hospitality, “ Beebe said. “Picayune has so much to offer, and it is wonderful to see Friendship Park be successful and help our city shine as well.”