Each year, the Cincinnati Parks Foundation presents the Phyllis W. Smale Award at the Hats Off Luncheon to recognize outstanding achievement, inspiring leadership, exemplary service, and creative vision in many areas related to horticulture and city beautification. In recognition of her many years of passionate volunteerism for Cincinnati Parks, this year’s award is given to Mary Jo Bazeley, of Price Hill.
Mary Jo has been a tireless advocate for Cincinnati Parks, with a specific focus on Westside Parks. Her volunteerism with Parks began with the Urban Forestry Division and the Street Tree Program. She planted trees with other volunteers, marked locations, and suggested species of trees for planting. This was followed by her involvement with the Spring and Fall Releaf program, which encourages residents to plant trees on their property to increase the city tree canopy. These activities led to tree plantings at Rapid Run, Green Up Day, and the Elder High School “Father and Son” workday.
Mary Jo began the Family Fun Fridays to help combat graffiti at Rapid Run Park and provide fun activities for families. Her famous Canoe and Movie Night at Rapid Run Park has been continuous for over 20 years on the final Friday in July. This special event is a favorite of the community.
Her volunteerism goes far beyond Rapid Run Park. She also supports events and programs at Oldenview Park, Wilson Commons, the Krohn Conservatory, Warder Nursery and Cincinnati’s beloved, Mt. Echo Park.
Mary Jo describes herself as a professional volunteer. In the community she has served and continues to serve as a Director of the West Price Hill Community Council, Price Hill Thanksgiving Day Parade committee, community representative on the design committees for District 3 Police station (LEED Platinum certified), Otto Armleder Aquatic Center at Dunham, and the Price Hill Library. Over the past 6 years, she has served on the Cincinnati Parks Foundation Board. Mary Jo retired several years ago from her volunteer work at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in order to devote more time to family who live on the East and West Coast.
Mary Jo is also an avid gardener, with a keen interest in planting beautiful native plants within local city gardens, including her very own in Price Hill. For more than 30 years, Mary Jo has given her time and talent to Cincinnati Parks. On behalf of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation Board of Directors and the Women’s Committee of Cincinnati Parks, thank you to Mary Jo Bazeley for her time, talent, and advocacy for the Cincinnati Parks we all treasure.