Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cuba Hunter Park a Southside Attraction; There's Always a Lot Going on, from Skateboarding to Basketball to Nature Events

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cuba Hunter Park a Southside Attraction; There's Always a Lot Going on, from Skateboarding to Basketball to Nature Events

Article excerpt

Byline: PAULA SUHEY

Ask almost any elementary or junior high school student about Cuba Hunter Park on the Southside, and almost without hesitation they'll tell you, "It's an awesome skateboard park."

Brandon Murzynksi, a 10-year-old skateboarder from the Cedar Hills area on the Westside, started skating less than six months ago. His mother, Tina, said he would come every day if they brought him.

"He really loves it here," she said. "It's worth the trip."

One recent afternoon, about 100 youths were lined up, skateboards or scooters in hand, to appreciate the thrill of "catching air."

But while the skateboard park, which can be seen from Emerson Street, has the greatest visibility, a community center with a gymnasium is a center of activity throughout the week as well.

Cuba Hunter's namesake was a selfless Jacksonville teacher, said Pam Wilson, spokeswoman for the city's parks department. Hunter was with her nephew, Sidney, when he stepped in front of a car driven by a drunk driver in 1943. Sidney survived, but his Aunt Cuba did not.

Janelle Lewis, member of the Greater Englewood Neighborhood Association, is the facilitator of the Energizers, a group of senior citizens who meet every Thursday morning in the Community Center for coffee and to chat.

"We feel is it important to offer our seniors an opportunity to learn more about our community and to join together to work on projects that offer assistance to those who need help," Lewis said.

The 80-member Energizers participate in citywide events targeted for seniors like the Mayor's Older Buddies holiday parties. They have collected food for families in the community, and this year, they plan to send something to troops overseas.

A lot goes on at the park. For example, one recent day, city parks naturalist Jean Schubert spoke to children who wanted to learn more about wildlife in Northeast Florida.

"Jacksonville is a great place for someone who loves nature like I do," she said. "It is home to the largest urban park system in the United States."

Kathrine Southong, 7, and her sister Valerie, 3, who are homeschooled by their mother, Voun, listened and interacted with Schubert as she told them about alligators, raccoons and even armadillos (which are not native to this area). …

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