BROOKSVILLE — Lara Bradburn remembers seeing folks playing shuffleboard during the early 1970s at Hernando Park. As she recalls, the mostly elderly players didn't particularly enjoy seeing kids like her there, and often complained if she and her friends got near the courts.
"They pretty much thought we were there to bother them," Bradburn recalls. "Shuffleboard was their game. I don't think I ever saw any kids playing it."
Through the years, the shuffleboard courts at the park fell into disuse. Like steam locomotives, horse-drawn buggies and rotary telephones, they became relics.
So when demolition crews arrived at the downtown park Wednesday, their presence went virtually unnoticed. The courts were removed to make way for a new pedestrian park entrance that will be used for the inaugural Florida Blueberry Festival, May 4 to 6.
Cliff Manuel, a member of the Brooksville Vision Foundation, which is overseeing the park renovations, said the new entrance will have brick pavers, a pergola and additional landscaping, and is a joint venture of the foundation and the Brooksville Rotary Club. The improvements are being paid for by private donations.
The tiny 1.3-acre park on Fort Dade Avenue has been the subject of controversy ever since organizers announced plans to temporarily take down catch fences surrounding the tennis courts during the Blueberry Festival.
Residents argued that the Brooksville Vision Foundation had designs to take over the park and make permanent changes that would deprive them of the use of the four tennis courts there.
Manuel said that wasn't case, and assured county commissioners at a meeting this month that the courts would be protected during the festival and restored to their original condition afterward.
Removal of the shuffleboard courts isn't likely to cause a stir, said Bob Martinez, a longtime Brooksville resident and publisher of Old Brooksville in Photos & Stories.
"I go by there all the time, and I never see anyone playing on them," he said. "It's one those activities that's just gone by the wayside."
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]