Most visions of a big plan start with one or two people having a version of it in their head. Our history includes one such people; Larry MacDonald.
After serving in the U.S. Navy, Sheboyganite, Larry MacDonald gave two years of service to the United Nations in New York and France. This lead to his belief and practice that people from different countries who spend time and space together will be more peaceful with each other. Hence his travels around the globe and involvement with People to People, American Field Service Student Exchange Program and Veterans for Peace.
Larry was very active in various Service Clubs in the Sheboygan community. He was a founding member of Veterans for Peace Chapter 114 (Sheboygan). Together with other members of Veterans for Peace, Larry worked to make Sheboygan's Peace Park a reality.
Larry wrote a book on Peace, Our Side, which can be found at www.our-side.net. His website has collected hundreds of signatures from people all over the world who profess the idea of Peace. This site is also connected to the global “May Peace Prevail on Earth” website- www.worldpeace.org.
Larry purchased the first known Peace Pole in Sheboygan. In 2005, he approached the City and asked if the Peace Pole could be "planted" at the corner of N. 3rd Street and Michigan Avenue. That is the site of what is now Sheboygan Peace Park, but at the time, it was just a small triangle of green space near the shore of Lake Michigan.
In 2006, the Peace Pole was planted and the park was unofficially designated "Peace Park". Larry's dream was to plant two more Peace Poles at the park so there would be one in each corner of the triangle. Unfortunately, Larry did not live to see that dream become a reality. He died in 2011.
In 2013, the Veterans for Peace decided it was time to do something at the park to make it more noticed and more noticeable. With the help of volunteers from Home Depot, bulbs were planted around the Peace Pole along with annual and perennial flowers. A Hootenanny and other events were held at the park in hopes of drawing attention to the park.
Finally, in 2015, a concerted effort was made by the Veterans for Peace to gather peace-minded people in the area to see what might be done to promote and develop the park. Late that year, Friends of Peace Park Sheboygan was formed.
In early 2016, a fortuitous snowfall led to the first widely seen publicity for the park. Several members of Veterans for Peace gathered to make some snow people. A ring of snow folks encircled the Peace Pole. The sgroup drew the attention of a local news photographer and a photo appeared in the Sheboygan Press.
In 2018, Friends of Peace Park teamed up with Kelly Bahrs of Kelly's Landscape Design and with Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership (our Fiscal Agent). Kelly produced a wonderful plan for the park that could grow over time.
The City officially named the park Sheboygan Peace Park and approved the plan that Kelly had drawn up.
With guidance from LNRP and Kevin Struck of UW-Extension, we applied for and received a grant from Sheboygan County that enabled us to begin Phase One of Kelly's plan.
Work began in the fall of 2018 with a beautiful paver patio around the Peace Pole. In the spring of 2019, the work continued with plantings in the new Sister City Gardens, a bubbler patio and paths that connected the Peace Pole to the gardens along Michigan Avenue. The work was completed in time for the July 4th parade - the first time many residents and visitors saw what we had envisioned for the Park.
The history of Sheboygan Peace Park continues to be written as each year passes. Plans are in place for Phase Two and Phase Three of Kelly's plan. Fund raising continues.
Events have taken place each year to bring more people to the Park and to encourage people to live a more peaceful life.
Friends of Peace Park Sheboygan continue to raise funds in order to complete the plans we have for the Park. Your donation would help a lot. Please consider making a donation.