Historic Dennis The Menace Park Gets Revitalized In Midland

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Dennis the Menace Park first opened on July 11, 1959 in Midland, Texas. It was one of the first adventure playgrounds in the United States. The original park was made possible by an anonymous and generous donation with a stipulation that there would be free admission. It was modeled after a park on the West Coast that was based on the Dennis the Menace comic strip created by Hank Ketcham. Generations of locals and visitors made memories enjoying the historical equipment. The city updated the park once in 1993 before it needed an update again in 2019 to include new and inclusive play equipment. The challenge was to bring the park’s playgrounds up to modern standards and refresh its look while honoring its many beloved memories.

“Dennis the Menace Park is very important to this community. Many kids in west Texas—not just Midland, but all over the Permian Basin—grew up playing in this park. It has a lot of memories for a lot of people,” Assistant Community Service Director Laurie Williams says. “There were a lot of challenges and trying to hold onto people’s memory and trying to hold onto some of the old and mix it with some of the new and so we hope we’ve done that.”

Playgrounds, Etc., a Midland-based playground equipment provider, worked with playground manufacturer Superior Recreational Products to develop Dennis the Menace-inspired structures including baseball, western, treehouse, and airplane themes. Custom Dennis the Menace graphics also were incorporated to include characters from the comic strip, such as Dennis Mitchell and Mr. Wilson.

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“All four playgrounds here at Dennis the Menace Park have their own unique theming, which ties back to the original cartoon in some way,” Western Distribution Manager for Superior Recreational Products Josh Thayer says. “If I were to pick one unique feature, it would be the airplane structure. Virtually everybody here has some story that relates back to the original airplane at that playground so that airplane even of itself is probably the most single unique feature that we have.”

What’s more, the airplane structure is designed with a wide ramp throughout so children with and without mobility devices can play together. The entire park was created to include play equipment for children of all ages and abilities.

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Project Features

  • Steel play structures are built and designed for years of fun

  • Inclusive merry-go-round, climbers, panels, and spring riders offer a variety of challenge levels and activities for children of all ages and abilities

  • Custom Dennis the Menace-themed elements are incorporated into each structure to leave a visual impression on guests.

“This particular park is within walking distance to the most children in Midland, so it adds the most value to the most people in the city,” Thayer says.

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In addition to Midland residents, Dennis the Menace Park also attracts visitors.

“I am so, so proud that this park resides in District 2. When families from all over the Permian Basin come to shop in Midland, this will be an added enjoyable stop for them,” Councilman John Love says.

Hundreds within the community showed their support and excitement at the May 2 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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“Dennis the Menace Park is the jewel of the Permian Basin. This is important because playgrounds are the corporate offices for children,” Love says. It’s where kids learn to play fair, be kind, share, respect others, and learn how to get along with other people. It’s where the first life lessons about socializing are formed. This is by far the most important office space in the city of Midland. Thanks to you Midlanders, city staff, and city council, kids business is now open.”