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69. BEST PARK

Does any other park in New Haven have its own wise man? Edgewood Park’s wears spandex, and twists his long white beard in a bun under his chin to keep it from getting sweaty when he does lunges and squats by the basketball courts. Last winter, the first time I visited his verdant haunt, he pronounced something philosophical while stretching his quads, then un-bunned and braided his beard. I was sold.

Edgewood Park—an S-shaped stretch between Chapel Street and Whalley Avenue about a mile away from Alpha Delta—also has tree-lined trails, protected wetlands, a dog run, a skate park, a playground, a softball field, and bocce courts.

I lived in Swing Space last year and never went running towards Edgewood because crossing that weird triangular wasteland between Broadway Liquor (RIP) and Amigo’s would have significantly increased my chances of getting hit by four cars at once. But now I live in the Elmhurst, thank God, and it’s pretty much just a straight shot down Elm to Edgewood Park. The people-watching is distracting salvation any time you go for a run because, say, you think it might help you vanquish your hangover. One time, a five-year-old boy with a purple backpack started running towards me, yodelling. Most times, people hanging on the street shout words of encouragement at key points in a sweaty fiasco of a run. “Yo I like your leggings!” “You go girl!” “Wahoooooooooooo!” When else in life do you get personal cheerleaders like that?

Your journey, should those cheerleaders do their job, will be rewarded by the discovery of the duck pond tucked in a corner of the park. It does everything a duck pond should: reflect autumn foliage, shimmer under the first frost, shine under starlight. It also has ducks. It might just become an unexpectedly necessary component to your mental health.

So because this is reading week and we at the Herald are all about Cliff Notes, let me summarize for you: Edgewood Park. Prophets, cheerleaders, and ducks. Could you ask for anything more?