Newly remodeled San Jacinto Plaza reopens to the public

Visitors+enjoy+playing+a+game+of+pong+at+the+San+Jacinto+Plaza.+

Michaela Roman

Visitors enjoy playing a game of pong at the San Jacinto Plaza.

Julia Hettiger , Staff Reporter

San Jacinto Plaza officially reopened on April 16 after three years of construction. The restoration includes ping pong tables, a splash pad and preservative measures for the famous Luis Jimenez alligator sculpture, “Los Lagartos,” after it suffered deterioration from sun and weather damage.

The celebration began with streamers, dancing mascots and an opening speech from Mayor Oscar Leeser, who said the inspiration for the restoration project came directly from the people.

Although San Jacinto Plaza was supposed to be finished in 2014, Leeser believes the extra time it took to complete it was important to achieve quality.

“It exceeded my expectations, which is the important part, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t take any shortcuts,” Leeser said. “It took us longer than we anticipated, but the finished product, you can tell we didn’t take any.”

Multiple food trucks and booths lined the park at the celebration, including a booth by Destination El Paso, that passed out alligator hats. Amanda Gutierrez, events staff at Destination El Paso, said she was impressed with the new park.

“I think they made some really good improvements, and I’m glad they kept some of the features that were there before, like the little alligators and some of the vegetation as well,” Gutierrez said. “What I like about this one is it seems a little more open and family friendly, and it seems bigger even though I know it’s not.”

Some of El Paso’s iconic mascots, including Amigo Man and Gus and Goldie, joined the celebration as well.

Brittany Huerta, senior health promotion major, said she really enjoyed the new park and that she would return with her friends.

“I really like that they kept the alligator sculpture,” Huerta said. “I think the landscape is nice because it’s definitely more modern, but it has that Southwestern, desert look, so I like it.”

At first, Huerta was skeptical about the restoration, fearing it would take away from an El Paso landmark, but was pleased with the end result.

“I thought the park was nice before,” Huerta said. “It had a different feel to it, but I definitely like it more now.”

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]