Located at the corner of Edgar and High Streets, Sunrise Park is a 6-acre park developed as a recreational area with playground equipment, ball diamond, basketball court, picnic facilities, and an attractively landscaped beauty area, park benches, and a wading pool for children.
Paris Township owns the land. In 1944, the Paris Park Board requested and executed a 99-year lease on the property. In 1944, Mr. Hershel B. O’Hair agreed to finance the development of the park. The site of the park was formerly a gravel pit. The City of Paris hauled out gravel pit until it became a deep hole and pit, many feet below the street level. After the gravel supply was exhausted, it was used for a city dump. As the park was being developed, hundreds of loads of dirt from the City Diversion Channel’s diggings were brought to the park site to fill in the pit.
Sunrise Park is located at the corner of Edgar and High Streets and is comprised of approximately six acres. The park has a public playground and picnic area and a baseball diamond and swimming pool for youth under twelve years.
There are many unusual and rare trees in Sunrise Park: A favorite tree of George Washington is in the park, named Sarvis tree; it is a flowering plum tree; the snowy white Sarvis tree is the earliest to flower. It is a dazzling cloud-like tree, which becomes alive with thousands of lovely fleecy white blooms for weeks in early spring. Then it becomes a green tree in summer and turns to a fiery orange in early autumn. There are many Sarvis trees at Mt. Vernon, and as the old trees die, they are replaced with new Sarvis trees.
If it had not been for the foresight of Mr. Hershel B. O’Hair, and the continuing interest of his son, Mr. Karl R. O’Hair, in Sunrise Park, it might have remained as a gravel pit, dump, or housing area now. The people of Paris and Edgar County are indeed grateful to the O’Hairs for such a beautiful park.
Sunrise Park has the Fringe tree, a favorite tree of Thomas Jefferson. This tree was imported into this country by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, in Central Virginia. The Fringe tree has white blossoms in the spring, and it turns to a golden color in the fall.
Mr. Hershel B. O’Hair, deceased, and his son, Karl R. O’Hair, both had the goal of planting trees in the park that had never before been planted in Edgar County. Sunrise Park is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parks of its size in the State of Illinois and the midwest.
Of course, the common trees of Edgar County are there: Pin Oaks, Sugar Maples, Golden Leaf Sweet Gum, Colorado Blue Spruce, and Douglas Fir.
The favorite tree of Mr. Karl R. O’Hair is the Japanese Cherry Bark Maple. It has cherry color bark and a deep green tree and turns to a bright maroon color.
Some of the other trees in Sunrise Park are:
Golden Desert Ash; is a golden color beginning September 1st until the first frost. Golden Sweet Gum trees are shipped here from Oregon. Golden Barberry shrub, which is golden color all during the summer. Chinese Dogwood tree blooms in June, instead of many other trees which bloom in April. Tn-Colored Beech tree; during the season, it is red, green, then brown. Fern Leaf Beech trees have a gray bark. Korean Mountain Ash, imported from Korea, turns gold color in the fall. Bradford Ornamental Pear; is a flowering pear, white flower in the spring and green foliage in the summer, changes to bright maroon in the fall.
- There are five oak trees in the park which were there originally. These trees are over 100 years old.
- Washington Hawthorn tree is covered with white blooms in the spring, red berries in the fall, and most of the winter, which provides excellent food for the birds.
Other trees in the park are Lily of Valley, Mountain Maple, Flowering Scanlon cherry, a cross between a wild cherry, and a Japanese cherry tree. There are two rare Chinese Ginkgo trees. These trees are picturesque, branched, and prehistoric trees from China. The Ginkgo tree has unique fan-shaped green leaves, which turn golden color in autumn. The tree has round fruit kernels, which the Chinese eat.
Some many other trees and shrubs are not native to Edgar County. Mr. Karl R. O’Hair is continuously adding unusual trees and shrubs to the park. He ordered two Colorado Aspen trees to be planted in the park in the spring of 1974; the first to be planted in Edgar County.
Present facilities and equipment in Sunrise Park include:
A large grassy area with a softball diamond
Small storage building including restrooms
1 turfed basketball court
12 large swing seats
6 children’s bucket-type swing seats
2 giant strides
2 water fountains
1 barbecue stove
1 bicycle rack
Near the wading pool, there is a plaque, inscribed as follows: In Memory of Hershel B. O’Hair 1862-1945 who sponsored and generously provided the funds for the development of Sunrise Park 1945.