If you're driving north on Elm Street between 10th and 14th streets, you can't help but admire the Elm Street Park recreation facilities. The incredible Little League baseball field, playgrounds and lighted tennis courts are a jewel of Greenville's Recreation and Parks Department.
But just across the street, tucked in a little hollow beside the Drew Steele Center, is a treasure you may never have noticed. It's the Elm Street Park Lawn Games Area.
The pocket-size park features four horseshoe pits with wooden backstops, two bocce courts, two gazebos with seating and a humdinger of a shuffleboard court.
And you can use it all for free.
"A lot of people assume it is something for ECU or they don't have access to it," Recreation Supervisor Lewis Holloman said. "But it's open to the general public, from sun-up to sundown."
All you have to do is call, and Holloman or another staff member will meet you at the park with the necessary equipment and unlock the shuffleboard court. Or you may bring your own horseshoes or bocce set.
And if you've never played bocce or horseshoes or shuffleboard?
"We'll walk you through the rules, how to play and keep score," Holloman said. "These nontraditional sports are things you can do in your backyard, but they are tough. There is skill and strategy involved."
The only time the park is reserved is when Pit County Senior Games participants are practicing or competing.
The grassy lawn games area is ringed by the paved trails of the Green Mill Run Greenway as it runs from Elm Street Park to the parking lot at the bottom of East Carolina University's College Hill Drive. The path runs beside and crosses over swampy Green Mill Run and meanders up and down through a wooded area encircling the park. There's a picnic shelter there, and lots of birds. One recent afternoon Bill and I startled a deer who came crashing down the hill behind the Drew Steele Center, crossed over the greenway in front of us and disappeared into the thick underbrush.
Folks walk, run, bike and skateboard through the park.
"You can give us a call, hop on the greenway, walk over and play for a while without having to worry about bringing any equipment with you," Holloman said.
So instead of tossing corn hole or playing disc golf, why not try your hand at some traditional lawn games in a lovely park set aside for their pursuit? The park is waiting for you.