NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – People in New Bern started off their weekend by celebrating the grand opening of the new Martin Marietta Park on Friday.

“You know, this is really exciting,” said New Bern City Manager Foster Hughes. “We’ve been planning Martin Marietta Park for many, many years. We did our planning back in early 2018. We received grants in late 2018 and started doing work in 2019 on the park.”

Many people gathered at 700 South Glenburnie Road for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first phase of the park’s opening.

“I think this is exactly what New Bern was missing,” said Ellen Serra of New Bern.

The first phase of completion includes infrastructure, restrooms, a shelter, playground, trails, canoe and kayak launch, a fishing pier, an observation deck, gravel parking and seven miles of walking trails, including a story walk trail.

The Friends of the New Bern-Craven County Public Library helped created the story walk for kids and families.

“It’s a great opportunity to talk to your family, to talk to your kids,” said Judy Hills, vice president of the Friends of the New Bern Craven County Public Library. “And there’s a lot of literacy prompts that could generate some very interesting discussions among families. And certainly, the activity between the story walks with this half-mile walk, it’s a perfect adjunct to not only reading but to get them out and get them more active at the same time.”

The community and even those visiting from out of state enjoyed the sunny opening day at the new park.

“It’s very exciting,” said Debra Robbins, who was visiting from California. “It’s very exciting to be here with my grandchildren. It’s very exciting that the community is offering something like this.”

Locals and visitors said they were looking forward to getting out to the park as much as possible to take advantage of the new outdoor activities.

Click here to learn more about the facility.