Mary Lavaroni Community Park in Groveland Near Yosemite Blends New Technology and Old History

noahs outdoors

There is always something going on in Groveland, an authentic Gold Rush era town near Yosemite National Park, and chances are most of the time whatever it is will be happening at Mary Lavaroni Community Park,.

The park is lovely, and offers something for everyone, from a world class skate board park for folks with wheels under their feet, to playground equipment for toddlers, and picnic tables for Mom & Dad and the Grandparents to enjoy the shade under the trees while they BBQ a snack for the whole family who will be hungry after their exertions. There is a walking track, and a basketball court, and even a horseshoe pit for those who seek activity but don’t have a skate board. The local town museum, Yosemite Gateway Museum and library offer oodles of Gold Rush relics and even has a working arastra displayed as an oasis in the parking lot. The museum hosts an historical video show and is located on the East side of the park.

Mary Laveroni Community Park is wired with WiFi providing a strong high speed internet connection for free. This service is sponsored by the Hotel Charlotte and Groveland Community Services Department for those traveling with their techno-gear.

Mary Lavaroni Community Park has a history of its own, some details:

In the early part of the 20th century, (following the earthquake of 1906) the City of San Francisco purchased rights to take water from the Sierra Nevada via Yosemite and built the Hetch Hetchy system. Groveland, at roughly 40 miles away, was the center of operations for management and supplies. Trains would come to Groveland and be unloaded and reloaded on to another sort of train to handle the incline to the dam building site. The first train would then be turned around and sent back down the hill. To handle this process the project had a huge train nearly in the center of town. At the completion of Hetch Hetchy the tracks were pulled out, the station torn down and the land became Wayside Park, later named Mary Laveroni Community Park in honor of one of our leading women who helped put Groveland on the map.

The upper park was designed as a rest stop for visitors going to and from Yosemite National Park. In the mid-1990s GCSD donated land to the Museum/Library complex, which was built entirely with local donations. The Museum/Library is operated by the County and the Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society (STCHS). The lower park area was the original Hetch Hetchy railroad roundhouse and foundry. In the early 1990s a small stage and snack bar were built at the west end of the lower park.

The lower park was used for many years for various local events, and in 2004-05 a groundswell of community spirit funded the development of the lower park. Grass was planted on roughly 1/3 of the park area and a large concert stage was donated, along with bleacher seating. In 2007 the Groveland Rotary Club built a large BBQ next to the snack bar. Also in 2007 the $250,000 skate park was built after over 5 years of fundraising and volunteers who actually constructed it. Next came the basketball court in 2008. Just recently the County Youth Center moved rom its location on Ferretti Road to a brand new building funded by a HUD grant. The last improvements to the lower park will likely be grass for the area around the basketball court and skate park. In 2009 the District used the Base Line crews to rough out a loop trail that begins at the lower park and goes north about one mile to the District’s baseball field, and from there loops west and south back to the park. When completed, this trial will feature outstanding bird watching.

During our event season the lodging in Groveland fills up quickly. If you are planning to join us at one of the fun festivities, don’t wait to make your reservations!

The park is host to annual events and festivals like the ’49er Festival and Chili Cook-Off always held on the 3rd Saturday of September, the Where the Hell is Groveland Car Show, the Quilt Festival, the Easter Egg Hunt, Santa’s Visits and apple bobbing at Halloween and a summer Jazz Festival Day and much more. On warm summer Saturday evenings the park converts to a movie theater with family friendly showings, sponsored by the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce. Add in the occasional Flea market on the first Saturday of every month, May-October and musical events and you will find our little park is a big asset to the community and travelers alike.