This one’s pretty special. Recently the memorial bench was completed for a well-loved and dearly departed member of the Vallarta community: Mr. Jeff Bates.
All told, over 40 of his friends chipped in to cover the cost of the bench and materials. It’s a wonderful dedication to him… one that will last for as long as the Tile Park does. Complete with elements from the Vallarta skyline, as well as his hometown of Chicago, his name tile hangs above it all like the sun… smiling down. Closer inspection of the tiles will reveal Grey Goose martinis, red shoes, his beloved kitties, and some of his favorite sayings. It was designed for a friend, by friends, with plenty of love and care. It shows.
Within the park there are close to 70 benches. What’s neat about each of them is they basically embody the larger intention of the park: love, memories, healing and belonging. Every bench is unique, the product of emotions and memories, distilled into one little spot… a functional memento of sorts. People who sponsored benches were given free rein in terms of design and subject matter, and as such, when the Tile Park project is completed there will be all kinds of stories to tell.
Some benches were done by local hotels and merchants, so you’ll immediately pick up on their aesthetic and branding.
Others were nabbed by people and families who have long had a soft spot in their hearts for our fair Vallarta, and wanted to leave something for the future to remember them by.
We even have a University of Michigan bench, the story of which may or may not involve a decades-old college rivalry being won fair and square on foreign soil.
And of course we have memorials, like the one for Jeff, dedicated by his friend Marilyn in a post to the Parque de los Azulejos Facebook page: “We remember not just that he died, but that he lived, and that his life gave us memories too many and too beautiful to forget.”
At this point the benches are all spoken for, so all you have to do is sit back and watch the stories unfold. They take 3+ days to complete, so they’re a whirlwind of activity, but so worth it.
Where personalized tiles are a fun personal thing for you, a little Instagram spot for you and your friends… benches tend to be a story told to the world. They aren’t just a place for you to sit and have coffee, they are pieces of people’s hearts… or the story of their business… maybe even a turf war. Friendly, of course.
Next time you’re in Lazaro Cardenas park, take a closer look at some of the benches. They all tell a story worth hearing, and each is as unique as the one before it