Pictured above, city officials and park employees join Christina Richardson and Jen Weathington for the recent botanical gardens ribbon cutting at Noccalula Falls Park.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Noccalula Falls Park celebrated its newly renovated botanical gardens Friday, October 2, with a ribbon cutting to commemorate the occasion. Gadsden and Etowah County officials joined Noccalula Falls Park Supervisor Christina Richardson and Gadsden Parks and Recreation Director Jen Weathington as the pair introduced the exceptional addition to the Falls.
While the Falls offers its wedding chapel as a ceremony location for married couples to-be, the botanical gardens’ pergola will serve as another wedding venue at the park. The pergola’s casual seating for everyday use can easily be transformed into a lovely spot for brides and grooms to say ‘I do,’ with the park providing alternative chairs for ceremonial purposes.
With so many school groups that attend the Falls on field trips, the botanical gardens’ sensory garden establishes itself as a fun and educational experience for children. As they wander throughout the foliage, young visitors can explore their five senses through interactive portions of the garden and discover the variety of plants that grow together. In addition to the pergola and sensory garden, the botanical gardens feature a wildflower patch that will eventually transition into a native bed, a perennial bed and a water feature. Eagle Scout Brock Stewart fashioned a swing for visitors, where guests can relax and enjoy the abundant nature and timeless beauty surrounding them.
“A lot of heart and soul has gone into this garden by our staff,” said Richardson. “I appreciate that, and I’m very thankful.”
Gadsden City Mayor Sherman Guyton gave attendants some insight into the botanical gardens’ origin. Years ago, a group of people who lived on Noccalula Falls developed the Noccalula Improvement Association, which formed different groups to decorate certain sections of the Falls with Christmas lights at their own expense.
The money collected from the event would always nurture future ventures to improve the Falls. The significance of maintaining the Falls is something the NIA recognized, and a mantle that remains strong today, as inspired individuals dedicate themselves to preserving one of Etowah County’s most incredible wonders and creating an extraordinary place for family and friends to visit time and time again.
“I never would have dreamed years ago that it would grow into this,” said Guyton. “It’s just sort of kept going and going. Now, you have so many professionals who work up here. They’ve really turned it into an amazing place.”
Richardson and Weathington concluded the ribbon cutting by commending the efforts of all parties involved in the botanical gardens’ restoration, noting that without the joint collaboration of many, this addition would not have been possible.
“We could not do what we do here at Parks and Rec for the city of Gadsden if we did not have the support of all people,” said Weathingon. “It starts from the top and goes down. If we didn’t have the support [either by monies or approving extra time] we couldn’t do what we do here. I want to say thank you. Thank you to the support of the community. A great foundation is Friends of the Falls; they help us and put things back into the park. If we didn’t have all that support, we could not do beautiful things like this and have great areas at Noccalula Falls and all throughout Gadsden.”