Dedicated to all who serve the causes of peace and freedom (in uniform or by other means).
A Community’s Vision for the Gateway to Camano Island
In 2002, the dream came true for making the empty center triangle (called “Terry’s Corner”, where WA Highway 532 splits into East and North Camano Drives) into a community park. Members of the Camano community had long sought to protect this “gateway” to the Island from unsightly development and found a willing partner in the owners of Brown & Cole stores of NW Washington, who donated the approximately 3.3 acre site for what is now known as Freedom Park.
Brown & Cole Stores, founded in Whatcom County in 1909 and based in Bellingham, had over two dozen supermarkets in NW Washington and elsewhere at the time, including a store (Thrifty Foods) in Stanwood. It had gained ownership of the 12-acre Terry’s Corner parcel in 1997, but the property was subject to a purchase option granted to a commercial land developer.
Commitment Secured for Park Land Donation
Members of the organization C.A.R.E. (Camano Action for a Rural Environment) approached Brown & Cole about the future of the property and when the purchase option expired, the company said that it would donate about one-fourth of the land (approximately 3.3 acres) if it could get some help disposing of the rest of the Terry’s Corner parcel. The efforts of C.A.R.E members and State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen resulted in the acquisition of the remainder of the 12-acre parcel for commercial development and Washington State Department of Transportation uses.
At a meeting on October 30, 2002 with C.A.R.E./Camano community members (Mike Nestor, Phil Lewis, Jack Gunter, and Charles West), Brown & Cole President Craig Cole made a commitment to donate the eastern “tip” of the Terry’s Corner parcel, with the condition that it remain for use in perpetuity as a public park and that it be named be named “Freedom Park” in appreciation for “those who serve the causes of peace and freedom” by whatever means. The Park was formally dedicated for public use in perpetuity at a ceremony held on July 4, 2003.
In 2006, C.A.R.E. subsequently transferred ownership of the site to the Freedom Park Association, a local not-for-profit corporation that manages and cares for the Park. While Brown & Cole provided funding for the initial monumental metal and granite sculptures, numerous organizations (such as Stanwood/Camano Rotary) and individuals have contributed to the Park’s development over the years.
Why “Freedom Park”?
Freedom Park was named in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA. Many compared these events to the tragic attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 (“a day of infamy”). The NW Washington region’s remaining survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack were named as honorary stewards of the Park, noting that they are “living symbols of the efforts of many Americans who overcame tragedy to serve the cause of a secure democracy and a safer world.” Freedom Park is Washington’s only monument memorializing Pearl Harbor survivors and is thought to be the nation’s only park so dedicated outside of Hawaii. (The USS Arizona, the sunken vessel that serves as the national Pearl Harbor Memorial in
Honolulu and as the resting place of 1,102 of its crew, sailed into Washington waters in 1922, 1927, and 1933.)
Today, virtually all of Washington’s military Pearl Harbor survivors have passed on. But their memories and their names live on in the Park’s custom-designed imposing granite monument and etched bronze plaque, plus the singular naval-style flag standard and a Liberty Ship’s bell (transported from San Francisco by Stanwood/Camano Rotary) that tolled at the Park for those who died that day. A half circle of curved metal blocks represents the hull of battleships lost that fateful day.
But the donation of land and naming a park site were only initial steps in creating a truly fabulous public space. It is the subsequent—and continuing—leadership and toil by local residents, who, working together through the Freedom Park Association, have managed to develop and maintain a family-friendly playground (courtesy of the local Rotary Club), landscaping, artwork, and benches to sit, reflect and remember.
Historical Documents (pdf)
- Use playground at your own risk
- Use only under adult supervision
- No food or drink in playground
- No pets in playground
- Please use trash receptacles
- No bare feet
- No smoking
- Play safe and be courteous to others