When Independence, Kansas, Lions took over a concession stand at Riverside Park and Zoo, a 124-acre park owned and operated by the city, they vowed to give visitors the best food they could as well as keep them coming back for more. Five years after taking over the abandoned building, now named the Lions Den, their strategy has worked so well that one of their best repeat customers is a peacock who lives at the park. Lions sell reasonably-priced food including hot dogs, nachos, cotton candy, snow cones, ice cream, soft drinks, peanuts and the peacock’s favorite, popcorn. The monkeys who live next door at Monkey Island are “particularly fond of the peanuts,” Lee Cain points out diplomatically. Humans, too, seem to be partial to Lions’ food. Last year the club made $12,300 after expenses and the stand has steadily been a profit-maker for Lions, who had to invest considerable effort to get it into optimal shape before taking over its operation. Members of the 87-year-old club take turns volunteering there so funds can be directly recycled back into the community instead of paying staff. For the past four years, Lions have helped support a local dentist’s mission to Jamaica by providing a new dental chair, medical and dental supplies and even books for schoolchildren there. Kiddyland, a fairy tale-themed playground for toddlers and tots at Riverside Park, was built by Lions in 1961. A favorite place for children’s birthday parties and field trips at the end of the school year, it features 45 separate concrete, fiberglass and stone structures. The large castle complete with moat and bridge is probably the hands-down favorite for kids, says Tom Henrichs, who with wife, Karen, and a Lions work crew helps paint and keep Kiddyland’s attractions in top condition. And it’s not just the little ones whose shouts of joy can be heard as they race around the playground. Peals of laughter are plentiful from parents and grandparents, who often thank Lions for helping make more happy memories for another generation of children.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.