Ahrens Park: Signage Completes this Walk in the Park

Leave it better than you found it.

Claude Ahrens

It’s been almost 30 years since Grinnell businessman and philanthropist, Claude W. Ahrens, donated land and millions of dollars to create the Ahrens/Paschall Memorial Park in Grinnell, Iowa. Honoring Claude and Dolly's late son, Paul Ahrens, and a close friend Jim Paschall is how the park got it's name. The park is home to eight youth softball and baseball fields, outdoor basketball courts, a tennis court, four pickleball courts, a sand volleyball court, several playground areas, three shelter houses, a sledding hill, community gardens, green spaces, and a one and a half mile outdoor walking path.

To honor his legacy, the Ahrens Park Foundation raised funds to install new playground equipment from Miracle Recreation, a company Ahrens founded with his father John Ahrens. As Claude Ahrens spent many years of his career redesigning and selling the Miracle Whirl merry-go-round and other popular park features like swings, slides, and teeter-totters, it was only fitting that the Ahrens/Paschall Memorial Park had an impressive and inclusive playground for all ages.

“The Ahrens Park Foundation reached out to us to create donor wall signage and exterior signage panels that would honor the legacy of the founder with two goals in mind,” says Ben Latimer, Director of Digital Media. “First, they wanted the signs to honor the donors and their founder, and, second, the signs needed to fit in with the park atmosphere. Our designers created signage that exceeded their expectations.”

To make the signs feel like part of the park, the design team used a custom vine and leaf motif for the header of the history signs and runs through the center of the donor wall signage. The design is made from routed aluminum and is painted green. The floral-like logo of the Ahrens Foundation on the bottom of the four history signs pairs well with the leaf design.

While the routed leaf design may look delicate, the park signs were built for the elements. “Each history sign is made with an aluminum frame and a high-pressure laminate graphic panel,” Latimer says. “The panels are weather- and tamper-resistant. Similar to signage used at a zoo or outdoor museum. They’re incredibly durable.”

The panels of the donor wall are made with the same outdoor-rated high-pressure graphic panels. This material will keep the park signs looking good for years to come. “Our family and company are proud to be part of this community, it was important to us to make sure we’re living up to Claude Ahrens’ motto ‘leave it better than you found it,’” Latimer says.

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