INDIANAPOLIS – Dan Wakefield’s stories have always featured bits of his Hoosier upbringing sprinkled within them. Now the park he played in as a kid may soon bear his name.
Broad Ripple resident Patrick Chastain is leading the charge to rename Broadway and 61st Park after the Indianapolis author, and has started a petition drive on change.org. He said the park’s generic name creates an opportunity to honor one of Indiana’s most renowned writers.
“He grew up a couple blocks from the park. He went to School 80 a couple blocks from the park. He’s from Broad Ripple and I couldn’t think of a better person to name the park after,” Chastain said.
Chastain said the idea came to him while reading Wakefield’s book Going All the Way. The novel features a scene set in the same park where Wakefield attended Boy Scout meetings and played as a child – the park at Broadway and 61st.
Wakefield said he’s flattered by the idea.
“He knows me through my books, so that makes it all the nicer,” Wakefield said. “It would be a great honor and it would certainly be the greatest honor I’ve ever had.”
The idea has drawn support from former Sen. Richard Lugar and literary supporters such as Barbara Shoup, the executive director of the Indiana Writers Center. She said the city needs to display more prominent support of its writers.
“You can go to the ballet and watch people dancing,” Shoup said. “You can go to the symphony and watch people playing their instruments and listen to them and think ‘Oh, how wonderful it is,’ but you can’t watch writers write. I’d like to see it – if nothing else – as a nod to literature.”
The parks board has not determined whether it will hear the proposal at its September 24th meeting.
Chastain said he hopes the ruling comes quickly and allows one of his idols to be immortalized while he is still able to enjoy the honor.
“People ask me ‘why should we name it after Dan while he’s still alive? Shouldn’t we wait until after he’s gone?’ It just makes no sense to me,” Chastain said. “Why would you not honor someone you care about while he or she is still alive to see it?”