After several hours of cleaning up, many thank yous and a rain delay, Dividend Park opened Sunday afternoon.
Volunteers, local lawmakers, town officials and hikers turned out for the of Sunday. The event was held in conjunction with the , which featured 200 volunteers leading hikes through 800 miles of trails in the state this weekend.
About 45 volunteers spent more than 300 hours cleaning up Dividend Park over the past few months, according to Ed Chicucarello. In a given year, Park and Recreation Department President Lisa Zerio said the town staff would only be able to cleanup the park one to twice.
"It is gorgeous. What we have is a gem," said Sandi Kelly, who was named the volunteer trail manager for Dividend Park, which means she will help with maintenance and future projects at the Rocky Hill destination.
"We are blessed to have Sandi," Zerio said. "Thank you all from the bottom of my heart."
Over the years, the park has had problems with people dumping items and even Saturday night, volunteers found grass clippings in the state archaeological preserve, according to Kelly.
"We want people to come here and enjoy it," she said.
The ceremony, which was , featured the presentation of Colors by , a performance of the national anthem by the Lombardo Saxophone Quartet and a reading of a proclamation from the General Assembly by state Rep. Tony Guerrera.
"Many communities wish they had this piece of land," he said.
Guerrera went on to thank the volunteers and town officials for their "great vision" and "endless hours of hard work" in seeing the importance of having open space in Rocky Hill.
"So now everyone in this community can enjoy it," Guerrera said.
In 2004, Rocky Hill residents voted by a "wide-margin" for the town to purchase the 68-acre piece of land as open space. The efforts to acquire the land were lead by the volunteer group called "Save Open Space" or "SOS."
The event was also a chance for Chicucarello to thank amateur archeologist and former Rocky Hill resident June Cooke for all hard work that she did for the state archaeological preserve. She blazed the first trail, lead an archaeological dig and discovered many facts about Dividend Park.
"My mother is very proud of the work that the town has done," said her son Ben Stulpin, who along with his sister Cindy Klemeyk cut the ribbon for the opening ceremony. "She is very appreciative."
In the end, Chicucarello, who lead many in attendance on a three-mile throughout the park, was happy having everyone working together.
"It's great to see everyone on the same trail," he said.