More than 100 people gathered near the foot of the U.S. Highway 331 Bridge on Wednesday for the ribbon cutting ceremony of Grady Brown Park. Brown was a local fisherman who passed away in 2017.
FREEPORT — More than 100 people gathered near the foot of the Clyde Wells Bridge on U.S. Highway 331 on Wednesday to honor a "local fishing legend."
After about a year of construction, Grady Brown Park is open for business.
According to Walton County Commissioner Bill Chapman, whose district includes the park, the feat was the result of a combined effort between local officials and residents.
"I’m extremely pleased with the way it turned out, and I hope you are too," Chapman told those in attendance.
For county spokesman Louis Svehla, there couldn’t have been a better name for the park.
"(Brown was) a local fishing legend that helped everybody learn how to better their fishing techniques and how to be part of a bigger community and be able to enjoy this bay," he said. "He was the neighborhood friend."
Svehla added that the idea to name the park after Brown, who passed away in 2017, stemmed from an idea that Hannah Brown had to honor her grandfather.
"They basically said ’that sounds great,’ " said Svehla, who added that commissioners were already debating what to name the new amenity. "She really fought to get this done, and to be quite honest, it’s the perfect name for this park. ... The passion that she had was obviously passion that she got from her grandfather."
Hannah Brown spoke at the ceremony and began by thanking everyone involved for "their listening ears, and especially the tissues for (her) tears."
Brown said the park is more than just a memorial, but a way to make her grandfather proud.
"My papa technically lived here, in this water, on these rocks, on this bay. This place was his enjoyment," she said. "Every man and woman that came up to see Papa did not leave as a stranger. He has left such an impact on this community ... and he will forever be remembered as as a hometown legend."