Make Your Own Kind of Music in Fountain Hills
Blogger Robert Danielson digs into the Valley scene. This week: Fountain Hills’ Harmony Park
By Robert Danielson
I had read about one of the world’s tallest fountains located in this city on the northeast quadrant of the valley. My partner and I planned a Sunday morning trip to check out this famed attraction in Fountain Hills. The drive was pleasant enough through north Scottsdale. Our arrival to Fountain Park, though, was a bit anti-climactic.
We discovered a metallic fountain head that looked kind of like a primitive UFO that had crashed into the center of the lake. Its designer and a developer who assisted in the development Fountain Hills in the 1970s created a concrete water lily. But for us, no spray, no fountain. Hmmm. I didn’t do the appropriate research to know that the fountain operates daily “on the hour” beginning at 9 a.m. through 9 p.m. and runs for the first 15 minutes each hour, unless winds exceeding 10 mph shut it down. It was 8:57 a.m. In the hot sun, three minutes have never taken so long.
But there it was. 9 a.m. A spray powered by three turbines shot up to 7,000 gallons a minute through an 18-inch nozzle. And almost on cue, a light breeze toward the south end of the park brought us a heat-quenching mist from the center of the lake. It made the three-minute wait worth the whole visit, and greeted us with a giant rainbow atop the lake.
A few minutes later, lots of spray and some boredom, we decided to search for breakfast. As we made our way across the park we stumbled upon “Harmony Park,” a project created by the Four Peaks Rotary Club in conjunction with the town of Fountain Hills, and installed in early 2017. Harmony Park seems to be a public art project, but it’s so much more.
Beneath a shade structure are 12 various chimes, each including its own mallet. The instruments vary in height, and can be accessed by kids and adults of all ages and accessibilities. Although imagined for children, these two adults had quite a time banging, clanging and creating our own lakeside symphony.
With the partnership with the Fountain Hills Chamber, each instrument has a clever name and a business sponsor. The Rotary Club funded the entire $70,000 installation through private donations.
Manufacturers tout “concert-quality sound” from the instruments, emitting 90 decibels. Not to worry. By about 150 feet away that drops to 60 decibels. Nearby homes are not disturbed by the installation. Not only are these chimes accessible, but they are durable and sustainable, built to withstand the harsh desert weather elements. The site features a shade canopy, ADA-compliant surfacing, seating and nearby access to the park’s restroom facilities.
Similar parks have been sprouting up in cities across the country and the world. One manufacturer told me that these are a “new trend in musical expression.” All I can say is that it was a unique surprise that kept us entertained much longer than the 15-minute water fountain show, and warms the heart in this time where arts programs are getting cut by local school systems. The Rotary Club and city joined hands to bring arts into the lives of children. And some of us adults.
So next time you want to make your own kind of music, I’d encourage you to visit Fountain Hills, and enjoy some peace and “Harmony.”
More Desert Dirt
- The fountain’s designer, Robert McCulloch, founded Lake Havasu City with a purchase of 26 miles along the lakeshore. He attracted the London Bridge as the centerpiece of his development and holds two world records – the largest antique (London Bridge) and the world’s tallest fountain (Fountain Hills).
- The town of Fountain Hills was designed in 1970 by Charles Wood, Jr. who also designed Disneyland.
- Get your Irish on March 17 when the fountain turns green for St. Patrick’s Day.
- Adjacent to Fountain Park are a few good restaurants. We had a great breakfast at Euro Pizza (yes, Pizza)! My partner had a breakfast calzone that he still raves about. Next door there’s Arriverderci Cucina Italiana, which is on our list to revisit. Nearby are probably a dozen or so more restaurants, all of which merit checking out.
Robert Danielson is a 35-year career journalist, marketing and public relations expert. He joins us here at Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine as he explores the Valley as a newcomer to our region. Please welcome him by e-mailing him at RobertDigsIntoArizona@gmail.com