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Historical Dennis the Menace Park City of Midland | Midland, Texas

The original Dennis the Menace park was opened in July 1959 in Midland, Texas, as one of the first adventure parks in the United States. The park commemorates the Dennis the Menace comic strip created by Hank Ketcham.

original newspaper clipping announcing 1959 ribbon-cutting

Numerous features unique to the park were cherished by generations of visitors. The signature lion fountain at the entrance, an airplane play structure and swing uprights are a few of those beloved features.

The community park was rededicated in 1993. This event coincided with the Dennis the Menace movie release.

After decades of play, the park's playground equipment became unsafe for use. The City of Midland hired PSC in April 2015 to create a master plan to renovate the beloved park. After extensive site inventory, analysis, public meetings and a playground equipment audit, the park master plan and proposed budget were presented to the city council for future funding.

The first public meeting took place in June 2015 followed by a playground audit in September 2015. Construction was put on hold in 2016 to until the funding was raised to continue the project. Construction officially began in January 2018.

The project was completed in 3 phases.

Phase 1

demolition of unsafe conditions, accessible pedestrian walkways, landscape, irrigation trees, new restrooms, a resurfaced parking lot, security lighting and shade canopies

Phase 2

playground upgrades with 4 new differently themed playground areas

Phase 3

finished the project with additional play equipment and a splash pad

During the public meeting process, a high priority discussion was the preservation of the historic features. Although the current accessibility and safety requirements prevented the design team from leaving the park and playground as-is, the fact remained that generations of Midlanders had emotional ties to the park and the iconic structures within. The solution was proposed to re-purpose these features, such as the swing uprights which were incorporated into the entry signage.

The iconic airplane play structure was relocated to an elevated platform, just out of reach for climbing, as a focal point and the beginning of countless “do you remember when” stories.

The most requested item to remain in the park was the lion water fountain at the entrance. When the project began in early 2015, the lion was found in very poor shape, and after some investigation, the discovery was made that the fountain had actually been replaced during the 1993 re-dedication and was not the original.

original lion fountain - 1959
replacement lion fountain - 1993
restored 1959 lion fountain - 2019

After construction began, the City of Midland was contacted by an individual who claimed to have the original lion drinking fountain and said that they would like to return it to the park. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 2, 2019, the family of Manuel Rodelo unveiled the lion drinking fountain that had been purchased by their father 20 years before and restored by the city.

A new feature of the park is a bronze statue of Dennis the Menace himself. The artist, Tom White, lived in Midland from the time he was one until about age 36, so the opportunity to sculpt a piece for Dennis Menace Park “would be wonderful and nostalgic” for he and his wife Marcey, also a Midland native.

This is a good reward, and we're very excited to bring this park back to life. Midland is moving into the 21st century. This park is a reflection of being in the new 21st century.

Jerry Morales, Mayor of Midland