Contact Info
Miranda Hine
PO Box 6604
Syracuse, NY 13217

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 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 consider showing your support for our efforts in Thornden Park (30 years worth!) by becoming a member. The annual membership fee to join the Thornden Park Association is $10. Please send us your name, address, phone and email address and a $10 check to: Thornden Park Association c/o Lyn Simmer 116 Fellows Avenue Syracuse, NY 13210 

Thornden's Traveling History Show

2015 Thornden Park Association Garden Tour - June 14th


On June 14th, for the 22nd season, the Thornden Park Association is hosting its Annual Tour of gardens located in and around the Syracuse University neighborhood. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the creators, all either faculty or alumni of SUNY-ESF, of these unique spaces.

$10.00 tickets will be on sale at the Field House in Thornden Park on the day of the tour from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Enter the park at the E.M. Mills Rose Garden) Self-guided tours begin at 1:00 p.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. A map highlighting the gardens, their location, and history, will be provided with each ticket purchase.

The gardens on display this year are the handiwork of five esteemed professors and graduate students of Biology, Landscape Architecture, Forestry and Dendrology. Together they have contributed over 130 years of service to the neighborhood and SUNY-ESF! Each garden makes creative use of outdoor space and shares a common respect for the both the neighborhood’s dramatic topography and the region’s native plants. Above all, the owners of each property have treated the entire site as a garden, and will be available to discuss both plants and concepts, and to answer any questions. Gardeners will also share the devastating effect of the ever-increasing deer population in our neighborhood. The gardens and the gardeners reflect what is unique about the university neighborhood and celebrates the rich resource of SUNY-ESF, which was founded in 1911.

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.

CONTACT: Paul Aviles 315-471-6011 or Miranda Hine 315-478-5164,

2015 Syracuse Rose Day Scheduled For June 17th

The beauty and splendor of roses will be on display at the annual Rose Day noon to 3 p.m. on June 17 at the E.M. Mills Memorial Rose Garden in Thornden Park, Syracuse, New York. The annual event is hosted by the Syracuse Department of Parks and Recreation and the Syracuse Rose Society.

This event is free and open to the public. Rose and garden lovers of all ages are invited to stroll around the Mills Garden and enjoy hundreds of beautiful rose bushes in bloom. Members of the Syracuse Rose Society will be on hand to answer rose-related questions.

The Mills Garden features climbing roses on 10-foot arches, an Old Garden Rose area, along with many other types of stunning and colorful roses planted throughout the two-acre garden.

Light refreshments will be provided or bring a picnic lunch. Musical entertainment will be provided by Dixieland Update in the garden’s gazebo. The rain date for Rose Day is June 24.

For additional information about the Syracuse Rose Society and Rose Day, visit our Facebook page.

Please join us for this special day to stop and smell the roses at the historic Mills Memorial Rose Garden at Thornden Park. For more details on the event, contact Dan Magaro at 315-457-4351.

2015 Shakespeare Festival Dates Set For June and 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.


Discovery Camp

For nine years, the Thornden Park Association has co-sponsored Discovery Camps in Thornden Park’s Carriage House.

From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., children explore Thornden Park’s many features enjoying outdoor activities, which integrate, art, science, and language arts. Weather permitting, swimming will be included in their 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. This year our camps were fully enrolled by March and will serve 60+ children. Registration fees for 2014 was $90. Scholarships are available. If you would like to receive advance notice for the 2015 season, email

Camps for 2014:

Camp 1: Thornden Park Association. July 14 (Students entering Pre- K. K, 1)

Camp 2: Thornden Park Association. July 21 (Students entering Grades 1, 2, 3, 4)

Camp 3: Thornden Park Association. July 28 (Students entering Grades 2, 3, 4, 5)

In addition, the Thornden Park Association will co-sponsor two other camps with The New School:

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

Camp 5: New School: August 25 (Students entering Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)


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. 
Shakespeare in the Park: Two Gentlemen of Verona
Aug 11 Thursday, August 11, 2011 5:30 PM
Saturday, August 20, 2011 2:00 PM
Location: Amphitheatre
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Syracuse Shakespeare Festival Rides a Wild and Wooly, Two Gentlemen of Verona, for FREE Shakespeare-in-the-Park   The Syracuse Shakespeare Festival’s August 2011, 9th season, of FREE Shakespeare-in-the-Park, gallops off with a wild and wooly production, 1870s American West style, of Two Gentlemen of Verona.  

Show dates are Thurs/Fri/ Sat/Sun, August 11-21, 2011, in the FREE, family friendly, Thornden Park Amphitheatre.  Thurs/Fri/Sat shows start @ 5:30 p.m. and Sunday shows begin @ 2 p.m.   

Bring your partners, buckaroos, kin and neighborfolk to this FREE show in the beautiful Thornden Park Amphitheatre.  The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and you are encouraged to bring picnics and beverages of your choice.  Food vendors such as John John’s Cooker, specializing in barbecue, and Gannon’s Isle, specializing in ice cream, will have their delicious fare available for sale.  Bring a few pieces of gold or some silver certificates to buy some food or our vendors’ wares.   

A Kids Area is available before and during the show, providing balls, bubbles and surprises for kids 12 and under.  Musical guests will perform before the show and at intermission.  Free parking is available for every show.  Shuttle service is available on weekends.   For more info, go to OR call 315-476-1835


Images of the Park