Park named in honor of Hazel Lackey

  • Hazel Lackey waves to the dozens of people who gathered to celebrate the renaming of the park on West Main Street in Orange in her honor. Behind her is her son, Les. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

  • Susan Arnold, who sparked the movement to rename the West Main Street park in honor of Hazel Lackey, speaks at Saturday's dedication ceremony in Orange. 09-26-20 Staff Photo/Greg Vine

  • A temporary sign complements the plaque installed at the West Main Street park named in honor of Hazel Lackey. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

  • Among those honoring Hazel Lackey at Saturday's park dedication were Athol Selectboard member Alex Schwanz and George Corrigan, Elder at the Seventh Day Adventist Christian Bible Church, where Lackey is a member. Staff Photo/Greg Vine

For The Recorder
Published: 9/27/2020 2:39:18 PM

ORANGE — The guest of honor hadn’t even disembarked from the vehicle that brought her to Saturday’s dedication when applause and cheers erupted from the 50 or so people who had gathered to wish her well and thank her for her service to the community. The enthusiastic greeting for Hazel Lackey continued as her son, Les, guided her wheelchair to the tent that had been erected to keep her shaded during the ceremony that would officially name a local park in her honor.

The park in question — now called simply “Hazel’s Park — sits directly across the street from the Community Clothing Center, the thrift store Hazel Lackey opened and operated for nearly three decades.

The renaming of the park became a reality when voters at Orange’s Annual Town Meeting unanimously approved an article authored by Susan Arnold, a social worker who came to know Lackey well over her years of work in North Quabbin. The article lauded Lackey for “her decades of care and service to the citizens of Orange and surrounding towns.”

At Saturday’s event, Arnold praised Lackey as “a true gem” in the community; someone who managed to get help to anyone who needed it.

“She was always a fabulous go-to person when people were out of work, having a hard time, and needed something for their family. She is a gem. We are putting her on a pedestal today because it is a pedestal she deserves.”

Orange Selectboard member Alex Schwanz said, “The town of Orange is a better town for having her in our community.”

Turning to Lackey, Schwanz added, “The people of Orange will always be grateful for your years of service.”

A prayer of dedication was offered by George Corrigan, an Elder with the Athol Seventh Day Adventist Christian Bible Church, where Lackey has been a member for many years.

“She is my sister in Christ,” said Corrigan before starting his prayer. “It is a special privilege to do this on her behalf.”

He continued, “We join in asking that God bless her for the rest of her years. Hazel has been a blessing to so many people, many of whom she didn’t even know. Lord, inspire us to help our neighbors as she has done for many years.”

A number of friends and neighbors also took the megaphone to praise Lackey for her work in the community.

The ceremony was facilitated by former state Rep. Denise Andrews.

Following the event, Andrews said the dedication of the park in Lackey’s honor was one of several recent events honoring the contributions of women to the Orange community.

“I’m a humanist and a feminist,” she said. “It’s important that we recognize the contributions women have made to our town.”

Lackey, who is 93, resides at Quabbin Valley Healthcare. Her legacy, the Community Clothing Center, is now operated by her son, John.

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