Ping Tom Park has been a hidden gem in the Chinatown community for more than 20 years. Acres of lush green surround it and the Chicago skyline paints a picture in the distance. Ping Tom Park gets its namesake from Ping Tom, an American businessman and trailblazer who devoted most of his time towards expanding Chinatown through Chinatown Square and helped found the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. Ping died in 1995 before his dream of seeing a park be built in his community came to life. Ping Tom Park was dedicated on October 2, 1999 by Mayor Richard M. Daley and a bust of his image stands in the park to commemorate his impact in the Chinese community.
Recently, the Ping Tom Memorial Park Advisory Council (PAC) reached out to Ozinga for assistance in the upkeep of the park’s walls. Three large walls holding up the bridge were damaged and unsightly and the idea of transforming them into mural walls came to mind for PAC. Because this mural project didn’t fall under the Chicago Park District’s capital projects guidelines, funds were not able to be sourced from the Park District. That’s when they reached out to private businesses for donation requests.
Nancy Hannafin, Ozinga’s Vice President & Tax Director, was instrumental in getting PAC and Ozinga connected. “The mission of PAC is to do whatever it takes to keep the park updated, beautiful, and community friendly, “said Nancy. “We have a location less than a mile from the park, and now we can have a positive impact in the communities we serve.”
The donation was approved and awarded to help fund the first mural which was dedicated in 2018 named “All as One”. A second mural was painted and dedicated in 2019; “Between the Mountains and the Water” was inspired by the rich and beautiful history of the Chinese silk landscape paintings with a contemporary feel. A third mural is slated to begin in 2020.
“By having this park and its amenities available, it projects a safer environment and keeps residents and their families in the area avoiding deterioration of neighborhoods,” said Nancy.