has become a special place for a Tempe Terrace couple Catherine Seybold and David Fink.
In 2010, Catherine bought a plank on the boardwalk with the engraving “David and Cat 10 years to forever 5-5-10,” for the couple’s 10th year anniversary.
“It’s such a unique gift idea,” Catherine said.
You’ve stepped on them many times while walking along the Hillsborough River, stopped to read the engravings and maybe wondered about the names, dates and messages carved on the planks of the boardwalk in Riverhills Park.
But you might not know the history behind this scenic river walk and that you can purchase a personalized plank, too.
“It’s a good way to celebrate an occasion or commemorate a life,” said Karen Howell, chairwoman of the conservation committee for the Temple Terrace Woman’s Club. “Many planks are in honor or in memory of someone, or for special occasions such as birthdays.”
The club started the Riverhills Boardwalk Plank Project in the 1980s after it adopted the park, which is located east of 56th Street on Riverhills Drive next to .
In order to beautify the park and make it more accessible, the Woman’s Club, along with the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department, decided to construct a wooden walk with a railing adjacent to the river and initiated a fund-raising project in which residents purchased and personalized planks for $25 each.
Throughout the years, folks have bought more than 2,100 planks, and the boardwalk now extends to about 1,100 feet.
Today, people can buy a 6-foot personalized plank for $50 or an 8-foot plank for $65. Planks are guaranteed for five years but are replaced as a safety measure once they deteriorate.
“We get lots of mileage out of them,” said Jann Holcombe, of the . “We still have some of the original ones.”
Planks have commemorated weddings and engagements, and celebrated births and the lives of those who have passed away.
“It is the kind of thing people need to come and see to appreciate the beauty of it,” Howell said.
Jo Ann Woodard, 73, has been a Temple Terrace resident since 1955 and served as president and chairwoman of the Woman’s Club in the 1980s and 90s. She saw the birth and shaping of the project.
“I think it’s been a great asset to the city,” she said.
A few months after Catherine presented her unique gift to David, David’s 17-year-old dog passed away. The couple bought a second plank with “Talia, your loving spirit lives on” carved into the wood.
Catherine and David grew up in small cities in Wisconsin and Connecticut. They said the Riverhills Boardwalk Plank Project has helped them feel like part of the Temple Terrace community.
“It has been very meaningful for us,” they said.
To order a personalized Riverhills boardwalk plank, call 813-728-3536.