“Service Above Self” – Rotary International motto
Rotary International is a global service club formed in Chicago in 1905 to bring together businessmen and professionals to provide humanitarian service in their communities. Oklahoma City’s first club was one of the first in the nation, formed in 1909 as the 29th club.
When nearby Shidler school was built in 1930 on a small piece of land donated by Calvin R. Shidler, there was no room available for a playground because the river was very bendy in this area and ran along a course which was basically the same as today’s Central Avenue. At that time the riverfront was lined with oil storage tanks and the land was scarred by drilling activity. But in the 1940s, the Downtown Rotary Club identified the need for a playground for schoolchildren that could also serve as a neighborhood park. With members’ donations they purchased these ten acres, paid for the cleanup and development of the land and installed play equipment. When the playground was ready they donated it to the city parks department.
In 1949 the city council named this park Rotary Playground in appreciation for the work done by the club to improve the lives of children in this neighborhood.