The grand opening of Prospector Park in Breckenridge will be held Wednesday, Nov. 11, beginning at 4 p.m. The town of Breckenridge, Breckenridge Creative Arts and Breckenridge Heritage Alliance invite the public to help officially welcome the park on Veterans Day with events including an acknowledgement of veterans, the dedication of an historic artifact, the unveiling of the new “Tom’s Baby” sculpture and a ribbon-cutting by the Breckenridge Town Council. The grand opening will be held at the park, located at 112 North Main St.
The Tom’s Baby sculpture is the vision of longtime residents Mike and Anna Dudick, who provided the funding which enabled the Public Art Advisory Committee of Breckenridge Creative Arts to commission the sculpture.
Tom’s Baby, a gold nugget, was found on July 23, 1887, by Tom Groves and Harry Lytton in the Gold Flake mine on Farncomb Hill, outside of Breckenridge. It weighed more than 11 pounds and was named Tom’s Baby because Groves swaddled the nugget in a blanket like a baby and made his way to Main Street where the proud “father” showed his prize to all. Tom’s Baby remains the largest gold nugget ever found in Colorado.
“It was their (the Dudicks) vision — they wanted to create a piece that represented the rich history of Breckenridge,” said Jenn Cram, director of public programs and engagement for Breckenridge Creative Arts. “They wanted it to be a piece that was interactive, so they thought the story of Tom’s Baby would be a wonderful focus for the sculpture because the piece will encourage people to rub the Tom’s Baby gold nugget for good luck.”
The Breckenridge Public Art Advisory Committee put out a call to artists, narrowing it down to three finalists before finally selecting Seth Vandable from Texas.
“The playground equipment was designed to encourage kids to climb and be active outdoors and so it really blends in with our natural environment.”Jenn Cram director of public programs and engagement for Breckenridge Creative Arts
“One of the things that stood out about Seth’s work is his ability to capture representational sculptures in a larger than life format,” Cram said. “That’s what Mike and Anna were looking for. They wanted the sculpture to be larger than life size.”
Prospector Park will also feature an artifact display of a sheave provided by Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. In the mining days, a sheave was used as a large pulley to help deliver cages and buckets carrying miners and supplies into a mine shaft and to bring ore to the surface. The display, once complete, will include an educational sign demonstrating the process. The Western Museum of Mining and Industry donated the sheave on display at Prospector Park.
Prospector Park’s design was based on community input and was designed by All Around Recreation and Urban Play Studio, two Front Range companies that focus on park and playground projects. It features climbing boulders and nature-themed play elements, a small community gathering space and public art.
“This is a pocket park right in the heart of our town, that is easily accessible,” Cram said. “The playground equipment was designed to encourage kids to climb and be active outdoors and so it really blends in with our natural environment.”