Kris Harrington keeps a busy schedule. She is the vice president of the board of directors of Youngstown’s Oakland Center for the Arts, and she teaches writing at Youngstown State University. Mill Creek Park was an integral part of her childhood, and nowadays, twice a week, she runs in the park to find some solitude and to rediscover the quiet comforts of her youth.
My father was the only one who worked in the household and he was a mechanic, and so we didn’t have disposable income for my Mom to take us out to do paid activities, so we would pack a lunch and explore the park, and that’s what we did, that was our childhood in the summer.
Harrington grew up in Youngstown, not far from the park, and now her home in Boardman backs onto the walking trails. She still finds excitement in wandering off the asphalt track and discovering new parts of the park.
It actually still feels like this way to me, but it felt huge. I think of it now even when I go down and run the trails. You feel like you’re transported into some kind of magical forest, that this place exists in Youngstown. Where you get away from the schools, and the steel mills and all of the other things that were associated with Youngstown during my childhood and you go to this place that feels like it’s from a completely different land …
As a child, the park sparked Harrington’s imagination and fed her creativity.
It felt like I was in a storybook, and I that I was in one of the books that I read and that I was an explorer with my sisters and that we weren’t these girls from Youngstown, that we were maybe adventurers.
Harrington recently wrote a story, published in YSU’s literary magazine “The Jenny,” about running in the park. She continues to be inspired.
And I’m not really a runner, so I don’t run on concrete or tracks or on treadmills or anywhere else but the trails in Mill Creek Park, it’s the only (place) where I run, and it’s the only place I m feel like running something about being in the woods makes me want to run. And, so, I do.
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