Contact Info
Thornden Park Association
PO Box 6604
Syracuse, NY 13217

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Our Mission Statement

The Thornden Park Association (TPA) promotes increased community use of Thornden Park by restoring, revitalizing, and advocating for the park while maintaining its historic integrity.
About Us

The Thornden Park Association is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York. The Thornden Park Association was founded in 1983 to advocate for, restore, and revitalize Thornden Park, a seventy-six acre historic landscape situated within the complex and diverse University Neighborhood.

Please help support for our efforts in Thornden Park by becoming a member. The annual membership fee to join the Thornden Park Association is $10.00. Please send us your name, address, phone and e-mail address, and a $10 check to:

Thornden Park Association

PO Box 6604

Syracuse, New York 13217

Thornden's Traveling History Show
Thanks to Guerilla Gardeners
Due to the efforts of an anonymous guerilla gardener, the flower beds at the Madison Street entrance to Thornden Park are looking terrific.
Much thanks to the green thumb who trimmed the yew bushes and planted these mums in early October!
Syracuse University TRIO Group Volunteers at Thornden
On Friday, September 14th, a group of over thirty students from the TRIO program at Syracuse University joined us at the E.M. Mills Rose Garden for several hours of weeding. The Syracuse Rose Society was thrilled to have the help!
Keep in mind that the Rose Society gathers to winterize the garden every Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. through November - they'd love an extra helper or two!
Syracuse Shakespeare-in-the-Park Presents Julius Caesar and The Merry Wives of Windsor
Syracuse Shakespeare-in-the-Park continues its long-standing tradition with two more excellent stage productions this summer: Julius Caesar -- which runs from June 1st through 10th -- and The Merry Wives of Windsor -- which runs from August 3rd through the 12th.

As always, seating in Thornden Park's Amphitheatre includes paid and pay-what-you-can options. For more information, please visit

Weeding in Thornden Park
On April 21, thirteen members of Syracuse University's Orange Seeds organization spent three hours volunteering to clean Thornden Park. Together with members of Thornden Park Association's Board of Directors, they cleaned flowerbeds at the Lily Pond and Herb Garden. They also assisted in clearing grass and weeds from the park's brick pathways.

Another student group continued the volunteer spirit the following weekend. Members of Sigma Lambda Alpha, the SUNY-ESF Landscape Architecture Department's honor society, joined TPA members in clearing brush around the pinetum and Herb Garden. They also planted a tree in honor of the late ESF professor and neighbor Peter Black.

TPA will host its next volunteer weeding event in the park on Saturday, May 12th. The group will meet at the Madison Street entrance to Thornden and work on clearing beds in preparation for planting of annuals. All are welcome to join!

Discovery Camp Dates Set for 2018 - Registration Open

For thirteen years, the Thornden Park Association has co-sponsored Discovery Camps in Thornden Park.

From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., children explore Thornden Park’s many features, enjoying outdoor activities that integrate, art, science, and language arts. Weather permitting, swimming will be included in the afternoon activities.

Over the years, this program has grown exponentially. In collaboration with The New School, we now offer five weeks of camp in July and August:

Camp 1: Thornden Park Association. July 16 (Students entering Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Camp 2: Thornden Park Association. July 23 (Students entering Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Camp 3: Thornden Park Association. July 30 (Students entering Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and first grade)

Camp 4: New School: August 20 (Students entering Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Camp 5: New School: August 27 (Students entering Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Registration for the three TPA-sponsored camps cost $120, and the registration fee for the two New School camps is $170. Scholarships are available.

**Registration forms for each camp are found here**

New Exercise Floor Installed in Carriage House

Thanks to a grant from Tomorrow's Neighborhoods Today (TNT), the Thornden Park Association has purchased a new rubberized floor for the Carriage House.

Kids Doing Shakespeare Scheduled for July 2017

The Syracuse Shakespeare Festival, in conjunction with the Syracuse Department of Parks and Recreation, is sponsoring Kids Doing Shakespeare at the Thornden Park Carriage House from July 10th through the 14th. The instructional theatre program is open to children in grades 5 through 12. Registration is $125; details are attached.


Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association Seeks Assistance With Gardens

Almost a decade ago, Thornden Park's neighbors along Meadowbrook Drive enhanced the community with the establishment of end-cap perennial gardens. Due to volunteer turnover, additional support for maintenance of the gardens is needed. Please consider lending a hand - labor and financial support will help keep these public gardens properly maintained.


Shakespeare Returns for Summer 2016

The Syracuse Shakespeare Festival -- with help from the Thornden Park Association, the City of Syracuse's Department of Parks and Recreation, and a host of private sponsors -- will once again present a pair of shows in the Amphitheatre this summer.

Coriolanus will run from June 17th to June 26th, with shows at 5:30 p.m. on Friday the 17th, Saturday the 18th, Friday the 24th, and Saturday the 25th. There will also be matinee performances on Sunday the 19th and Sunday the 26th. In keeping with the tradition of Shakespeare-on-the-Grass, these performances are open to all on a pay-what-you-can basis.


The Taming of the Shrew will be the second Thornden performance of the summer, running from August 12th through August 21st. Performances are free, with shows at 5:30 p.m. on Friday the 12th, Saturday the 13th, Friday the 19th, and Saturday the 20th. Matinee performances, also free of charge, will be staged on Sunday the 14th and Sunday the 21st. This production will feature special performances by Syracuse City Ballet and Open Hand Theater puppets.


We hope to see you there!

Orange Seeds Assists Thornden With Big Event


This weekend we kicked off our 2016 gardening/weeding/clearing season in a BIG way. Syracuse University service organization Orange Seeds graciously included Thornden Park in its Big Event, a community-wide volunteering blitz on Saturday, April 16th.


We expected 20 students, but 70 showed up to work on this glorious day. Despite the fact we didn't have enough tools for everyone, the students cleared many feet of brick pathways, raked flower beds, and assisted the Syracuse Rose Society in weeding the E. M. Mills Rose Garden. With the help of Orange Seeds, we completed over 160 hours of work in one day!

Hundreds Enjoy Maple Day at Thornden Park

Neighbors, friends, and maple enthusiasts made March 12th's inaugural Maple Day another great event in Thornden Park. A special thank you is owed to Cornell Cooperative Extension's Kristina Ferrare for coming up with such a great idea to celebrate a rite of spring - making maple syrup in the city!

The event featured a number of activities for the whole family, such as learning how to tap maple trees, sampling maple sugar cotton candy and pancakes, and playing outdoor games provided by the City of Syracuse's Department of Parks and Recreation and Youth Services. The turnout for this three-hour event was over 300 people.


New Exercise Equipment Installed In Thornden Park

Five new exercise stations have been installed along the Madison Street Corridor. The exercise stations replace the old, wooden Par Course, originally installed in 1980 and replaced in 1995 through a grant by the University Neighborhood Service Agreement Advisory Committee (UNSACC). UNSACC grant monies also helped fund the new, replacement exercise course.

The Madison street corridor was chosen to begin the replacement of the exercise course because of its high “exercise-related” traffic. The chin up bars located on the south side of the corridor are the most popular station and have been reinforced numerous times. Now, a metal chin up structure, sunk into concrete, provides three height-levels for increased accessibility. The City of Syracuse paid for the replacement of the chin up bars and provided carpentry help for installation.

The other 4 stations include a Assisted Row/Push Up station, Plyometrics station that were installed on the north side of the Madison street corridor and a hand cycler and a squat press that are located on the east side of the Carriage House. All stations are accessible for people of all abilities.

The metal stations are designed to resist all weather and are an attractive green and gray color scheme that complements the park environment. Each station has instructions. Landscape Structures and Thornden Park Association funded the safety surfacing and installation was by CNY Masonry. More replacement stations are planned in the coming years as grant funds become available. 


Thanks to Summer Volunteers from SUNY-ESF and Colgate Alumni of Central New York!

Thornden Park looks better after consecutive Saturday clean-up efforts.

 On Saturday 22 August, the Colgate University Alumni Club of Central New York worked like beavers (pun intended), cutting down weeds, brush, and trees hiding amongst yews and arborvitae around the Herb Garden. We are hoping it will regenerate now that there is sun, air, and growing room. This energetic group were joined by area residents Aida Khalil, Paul Aviles, Lynne Odell, Lenora Monkmeyer, and Miranda Hine. Special thanks to Parks for providing the tools needed for this work session. The pile of brush we amassed is quite formidable!


On Saturday the 29th, sixty ESF Freshmen and their orientation leaders more than doubled this summer's volunteer effort in Thornden Park! This is hard to imagine.  For the past few years Thornden Park has benefitted from this extraordinary annual volunteer effort. A special thank you to Laura Crandall, Office of Student Affairs at ESF, and Steve Harris, City Forester at Department of Parks and Recreation for all the planning and organizing that was needed in advance of this day of service. Not only do the students benefit the park with their might and muscle, but they also connect with the community as they learn about valuable outdoor resources in their midst. This year in Thornden Park students fanned out and worked on the E. M. Mills Rose Garden, The Lily Pond, the Lilac Grove, Winter Walk and the flower beds at Madison Street entrance. They contributed over 180 hours of labor. Thank you so very much.

New Drinking Fountain Installed at Playground

The Thornden Park Association, TNT Area 5, and Department of Parks and Recreation have collaborated to install a new dual-user drinking fountain at Thornden, designed to hydrate (leashed) pets and two-footed drinkers alike!

TPA received a grant to replace the old, dare we say ancient, water fountain near the playground.


Thanks to Glen Lewis of the Parks Department for overseeing installation.

Memorial Installed at Thornden Park Lily Pond

 The Thornden Park Association has repaired and upgraded the brick foot pads under the two stone benches in the upper Lily Pond garden area.

This area is a peaceful place to rest and enjoy views across the waterfall towards the E. M. Mills Rose Garden. Inspired by its contemplative mood, the brick foot pads in front of the benches have been rebuilt and slightly enlarged to accommodate inscribed bricks to honor people who have been active in either the history of the park or the Thornden Park Association.

Each footpad has a central brick that explains this concept. Those being honored are Debbi Wellman, Katie Moran, Susan Hardoby, Lee Titchener, Major Alexander Davis, David Campbell, and Dan Collins. The Thornden Park Association will add names in the future as it deems appropriate.

A special thank you to Lyn Simmer for coordinating this project and David Suarez for his masterful masonry skills.

Weeding to Keep Thornden Beautiful

A HUGE group showed up on a BEAUTIFUL Saturday morning and we got a lot accomplished. The beds around the Carriage House are weeded; we planted some annuals at Madison Street entrance to the park and two thirds of the driveway to the Carriage House is cleared of grass – thanks to an amazing effort by Mark Pourpore.

Then we moved on to the Lilac Grove, which was somewhat daunting. Where to start? Restoring this is going to be a HUGE job. We decided to mark off one section to work on this year. One of our first missions is to get a weedwacker or lawnmower in under the lilac.

Thank you for all your efforts go to Grace Flusche (who brought Souradeep), Marilyn Zaleon, Paul Aviles, Ellen Somers, Kathy Downing, Lenora Monkmeyer, Jeanette Mattson, Mark Pourpore, and Matt Oja.

Do join us next time: 

Thursday, August 13, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 22, 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Saturday, August 29, [time TBA – ESF Day of Sharing]

Excellent Turnout for 2015 Thornden Park Association Garden Tour!

On June 14th, the Thornden Park Association hosted its Annual Tour of gardens located in and around the Syracuse University neighborhood. This year's tour attracted over 150 visitors. Thanks to all those who attended, and special thanks to the gardeners!

Garden tours raise funds for the Thornden Park Association’s continuing efforts to restore and revitalize the park, which has been its mission since its inception in 1983.

2015 Shakespeare Festival Dates Set For August


Chili Bowl Festival a Success!


New Roof Installed on Water Tower

The end of 2014 saw the completion of renovations to a Thornden landmark, as contractors finished installation of the Elon P. Stewart Standpipe's new roof.

The extensive renovation project was carried out over the course of a year and cost $2.85 million.

A Post-Standard staff photographer captured some exciting shots of the installation of the new roof, which can be viewed here.


Congrats and Thanks

This summer has been quite rainy. Perfect weather for weeds to grow strong and healthy. Most gardeners would agree, especially members of the Syracuse Rose Society, who have a herculean job of keeping all the raised beds in the E. M. Mills Rose Garden free of weeds. To the rescue, on Friday, July 18, came 14 young, energetic, hardworking students from Syracuse University (aka The Weed Killers.”)

These students, who are part of the federally funded TRIO program, donated two hours of their busy summer residency to help weed one entire quadrant of the garden. They were joined by their supervisors, two members of the Syracuse Rose Society, two students from ESF and four members of The Thornden Park Association. The pile of weeds in front of the group is the result of forty hours of labor! We are so grateful to these students for their assistance. They made Syracuse a better place!

Shakespeare-in-the-Park 2014

Twelfth Night’s Love Hits Your Funny Bone in this Year’s Shakespeare-In-The-Park Romp

Amor Vincit Omnia

"Love hurts, love scars, love wounds, and mars." Twelfth Night contains a classic romantic triangle: Count Orsino loves Olivia, who is infatuated with Cesario/Viola, who pines for Orsino. Concurrently, Olivia's steward Malvolio and Sir Andrew Aguecheek each pursue Olivia, while she in turn seeks out Sebastian, whom she mistakes for Cesario, who is really Viola.

No one is truly insane in Twelfth Night, but a current of zaniness pervades the action of the play. Separated twins, various disguises, and impediments to love conspire to make Twelfth Night seem like an episode of Frasier written by Shakespeare. Until the final resolution, one feels as if the pur-suit of romantic relationships does more harm than good. But true love sees the soul. True love recognizes the noble inner qualities of the beloved as well as the outward. The play provided Shakespeare with an opportunity to address (and sometimes mock) concerns raised by the Puritan theater critics of his time. Just as in our own enlightened age, Elizabethan theater critics anointed themselves the keepers of public taste and propriety and Shakespeare resented being judged. Twelfth Night was his opportunity to explore conventional wisdom regarding gender, sexuality, class identity, and morality. Thus, the play's main antagonist Malvolio is shut out from all the fun and gaiety ultimately expressed by the other characters. Someone has to be the butt of the jokes while Love conquers all.

Six shows:

Friday, August 8th: 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 9th: 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, August 10th: 2:00 p.m.

Friday, August 15th: 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 16th: 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, August 17th: 2:00 p.m.


Symphoria Brass Quintet - Free Concert

Thanks to the support of the Syracuse Sounds of Music Association, Symphoria's Brass Quintet will play a free show in Thornden Park's Amphitheatre on Sunday, July 20 at 6:00 p.m.

In the event of rain, the concert will be held at the University United Methodist Church (at the corner of East Genesee Street and University Avenue, four blocks northwest of the park).

2014 Shakespeare on the Grass

It's time for our Shakespeare-On-The-Grass series.  This year's show is one of Shakespeare's great "problem" comedies, Measure for Measure.

The show is directed by producing artistic director Jamie Bruno and stars Jack Sherman (The Duke), Simon Moody (Angelo), Heather McNeil (Isabella), Sarah Bradstreet (Mariana), and Basil Allen (Lucio), leading an outstanding cast of fifteen actors.

This a pay-what-you-can show where we collect a donation at intermission.  Food is available for sale at the concession stand from the Thornden Park Bulldogs and ice cream from Gannon's Isle.

Show dates are: June 20-29, 2014

Friday:     5:30 p.m.

Saturday: 5:30 p.m.

Sunday:   2:00 p.m.

Weeping Beech Bench Raffle

Want to win this stunning bench, created by artist John Noviasky?

We will be selling raffle tickets for the next two months. You can purchase them at our Garden Tour table on June 15 and at our booth at the Westcott Cultural Fair. The winner will be drawn at the Westcott Cultural Fair. Tickets will cost $5 or 3 tickets for $12.

2014 Chili Bowl Festival a Great Success

The 2014 Thornden Park Chili Bowl Festival was held on February 8th, and was a huge  success.  The event cleared a profit of over $2,100, making it the 4th-most successful CBF since the event’s inception about 20 years ago.  The cold but sunny weather helped bring out a large crowd that packed the Field House for the duration of the event.  Two television stations sent camera crews and aired stories that evening, highlighting the event and the Thornden Park Association’s work to improve the park and encourage its use.

The Chili Bowl Festival has benefitted from loyal support by many area businesses, several returning as sponsors year after year.  Gianelli Sausage donates all the ground  sausage and beef for the Syracuse and Classic Beef chilis, and Plainville Farms, despite its reduced CNY profile, ships turkey thigh meat from Pennsylvania each year for the Turkey Chili. Additional loyal business contributors for sponsorship cash and in-kind donations for raffle prizes are Geddes Federal Savings & Loan, Blue Prints Dog Studio, Cooperative   Federal Credit Union, Nancy Freeborough DVM, Pei Lin Huang, Syracuse Real Food Co-op, Anthony’s Pasta Bar, Beer Belly Deli, Coleman’s Florist, Insomnia Cookies, Ken Nichols Art, Mello Velo, Middle Ages Brewing Company, NY Bold Onions, Picasso’s Pastries, Piraino’s Country Liquors, Skytop Liquors, Solvay Bank, Symphoria, Syracuse Stage, Tops Friendly  Markets, and Wegmans.  The delicious home-brewed root beer from E. J. Wren is donated by Peter Ensminger every year. 

Thanks, also, to our generous members who bought raffle tickets & made donations!

Again this year, the CNY Disc Golf Association held their “Ice Bowl” tournament on the same day as CBF.  The two events make a great pairing showing how the park can be used throughout the year and not just in the warmer months. 

Weeping Beech

In March 2013, Thornden Park lost one of its landmarks as a wind storm toppled the park's 170-year-old weeping beech tree.

We are also seeking five to ten local artists who would be interested in creating a piece of art from the wood of this beech tree and donating it to the Park Association.

In lieu of payment, the artist would receive some of the wood for his or her personal use. The donated art will be raffled by the Thornden Park Association at the Chili Bowl Festival, the Garden Tours, and the Westcott Cultural Fair.

Cricket, Anyone?

Upstate Cricket Club   Background information Established in 2011, we are a strong group of motivated individuals from different backgrounds. Most of the enthusiasts are graduate (PhD and masters) and medical students at SUNY Upstate Medical University, but we also have post-doctoral fellows, physicians, trainee doctors, physician’s assistants at our behest. Even though cricket is traditionally a colonial game, we have many American enthusiasts who play regularly. Thus we have good mix of people not only from different educational backgrounds with both male and female participants but people from different country of origin such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, England, USA, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Jamaica etc.   Our professional commitments permit us to play on the weekends. We manage a good 4-6 hours of play every time. Recently we have upgraded our cricket equipment to meet the increase in strength of players and the ever expanding enthusiasm. Newer equipment and increasing number of enthusiasts have brought newer challenges. We would love to play at a bigger field and lately we have been playing at the Thornden park football field. However, the center of the field (which is pivotal to our game) is uneven and needs regular maintenance as far as the grass on the ground is concerned. You can visit our facebook page: ‘Upstate Cricket Club’. 

History of Thornden Shared

Susan Hardoby spoke about the history of Thornden Park and presented slides to the residents at The Oaks Residential Community at Menorah Park on July 7th. Some of the residents shared their remembrances of the park in earlier days, as they lived in the area back then. One resident said she had pictures of the many flower beds that inhabited the park in the forties or fifties. We are always interested in stories and pictures of the park and would love to hear and/or see them, so if you have any, please contact Susan. She also is willing to come speak at any gathering or meeting interested in learning about the history of the park. Call her at 445-1798.

In October 2008 Susan Hardoby presented the Park's historical slide show to the Women's Organization of DeWitt Community Church (and we thank them for their kind donation to help us continue our efforts in the park.) Please know that this presentation is free and we are more than happy to show it to your group. (We also have a video called Uncommon Ground, that we produced about the park.) Both are available to your community, church, garden or any other group or organization that may be interested in the history of the park and what a group can do to improve our wonderful public green spaces. Just give Susan a call at 445-1798 to schedule her in to your program. Thanks.

GARDEN TOURS: For the 21st year, the Thornden Park Association hosts tours of private gardens located in and around the Syracuse University neighborhood on Sunday, June 16th from 1 pm – 4 pm. RAIN OR SHINE! Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the creators of these unique gardens. $10.00 tickets will be on sale at the Field House in Thornden Park on the day of the tour from noon to 3 pm. (Enter the park at the E.M. Mills Rose Garden) Self-guided tours begin at 1 PM and end at 4 PM. A map highlighting the gardens, their location and history, will be provided with each ticket purchase. 
GARDEN TOURS: For the 21st year, the Thornden Park Association hosts tours of private gardens located in and around the Syracuse University neighborhood on Sunday, June 16th from 1 pm – 4 pm. RAIN OR SHINE! Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the creators of these unique gardens. $10.00 tickets will be on sale at the Field House in Thornden Park on the day of the tour from noon to 3 pm. (Enter the park at the E.M. Mills Rose Garden) Self-guided tours begin at 1 PM and end at 4 PM. A map highlighting the gardens, their location and history, will be provided with each ticket purchase. 

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