Some exciting things are happening at Noccalula Falls Park, which is why we’re revisiting Gadsden’s premier landmark (after recently pondering a proposal to keep the water flowing even in dry weather).
First, members of Friends of the Falls, an advocacy and educational group for the site, are attempting to clean up graffiti off the rock walls in the gorge beneath the waterfall.
Some of the group’s board members did the initial work and planned to go back and finish with other group members and volunteers.
They’re cleaning things up the tough way, using a special soap solution designed for that specific purpose (with a dose of elbow grease tossed in).
We know the only thing that will prevent graffiti at the falls or anywhere else, 365/24/7 security, isn’t feasible. It’s still sad that fledgling “artists” or bored or destructive types would spoil the park’s natural beauty with useless scribbling — but we’re glad there are dedicated people willing to take care of the mess.
Second, construction has begun on the new botanical gardens at the park. Longtime visitors will remember the old version, which was removed in 2015 because it had deteriorated and become dangerous.
Replacing it had always been the plan, but park officials chose to wait until they had the resources to make it something special.
The infrastructure — concrete sidewalks, a spot for outdoor weddings, rock walls, electrical wiring, irrigation trenches and water features — should be done by the end of this month.
Park crews will begin planting the garden early next year. On tap are ferns and plants native to the area, brightly colored flowers and a sensory garden. We look forward to seeing it at full bloom.
Third — can you believe it’s been 50 years since the statue of Princess Noccalula, the waterfall and park’s namesake, was installed at the top of the gorge?
A dinner is planned at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 in the renovated Kiwanis Pavilion to commemorate the anniversary. Tickets are $25 (available at the Downtown Civic Center or online at https://bit.ly/2lyfksj) and proceeds benefit the Gadsden Woman’s Club, which commissioned the statue by Baroness Suzanne Silvercruys (Kay Smith, a 15-year-old from Glencoe, was the model).
Then at 9 a.m. Sept. 21, there will be a wreath hanging and presentation about the park’s legacy at the statue site, then everything at the park (except Mini Golf) will be free for the rest of the day, until the park closes at 6 p.m.
We’ve observed that many locals probably take the falls and the park for granted, because they’ve been there so many times and it’s become too familiar and routine. Maybe it’s time for a reintroduction; it’s a unique, special place.