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Billings celebrates Centennial Park grand opening

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Posted at 6:05 PM, Jun 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-05 20:05:12-04

It's been more than 30 years since Billings has had big improvements to any park.

Many from the community and nearby neighborhoods came out to celebrate the grand opening of the addition of a dog park and open fields at Centennial Park on Saturday.

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"We also have Calvin and the Coal Car is going to play," said Mike Pigg, city of Billings superintendent of parks. "We got bounce houses. We got food trucks. The Lifeflight came in. It is a big deal, 30 years in the making."

Pigg said the dog park is more than six fenced acres and there will be more big fields for sports.

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KTVQ photo

"Two large open field spaces," Pigg said. "Practice soccer or lacrosse or just, you know, come on fly a kite."

The festivities started with the mayor and others from the city.

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KTVQ photo

"It's a hot day, but it's a beautiful day," Mayor Bill Cole said from the stage. "It's also a historic day. Believe it or not, this is the first large regional developed park in Billings since Castle Rock was partly constructed in 1982."

Ward 5 Councilman Mike Boyett talked about growing up in Billings and spending time with his brother and sister at Pioneer, Terry, Veterans and Central parks.

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"I'm hoping that the future generations of buildings will have the same enthusiasm and love and fun for this park," Boyett said.

Tom Rupsis, parks board chair, talked about coaching Little League teams and practicing in weeds with rusted out backstops at Centennial Park.

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"My hope is that within the next 10 years, we're doing a lot more of these events," Rupsis said. "We're going to do it up at Castle Rock with a new community center playground hopefully later this summer."

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Then it was time for the ribbon-cutting for the grand opening of the park, and more importantly for some, the dog park.

"It's gonna be fantastic," said Joey Zehrung, dog owner. "It's almost in the backyard. We just live yonder. So the dog is super excited to come here so they're going to get glued to this park."

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KTVQ photo

Pigg said the celebration is about phase one, but more is planned with phases two and three.

"When it's all built out, it'll have a really nice destination playground, a splash pad, basketball court will be striped for pickleball also," Pigg said. "And we're hoping for a large pavilion."

"It's not the end of the story," Cole said. "It's just the beginning of the story. We've got a lot more to do here, this park t is not completed."

It's all part of the Centennial Park Master Plan and the dream.