Neighborhood park honors longtime Parrish residents

dgraham@bradenton.comJune 6, 2013 

PARRISH -- A new neighborhood park will be dedicated to Parrish homesteaders Joe and Lillian Lescenski, who spent more than half a century on the land now in Forest Creek.

The ceremony is at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

"The significance of Parrish is that of one of Manatee's historical communities, and our goal was to preserve as much nature at Forest Creek as possible," said Pat Neal, founder of Neal Communities. "We bought the house from Lillian in her 80s.

"It's the prettiest place on the property. There are beautiful oak trees we preserved, a play structure and a picnic structure adjacent to the conversation area."

Neal's brother, Paul Lescenski, said he remembered when the family first moved to Parrish in the early 1950s.

"We went back on this dirt road forever and ever," he said. "It was probably a mile, and here's this little house."

Joe Lescenski sold his Parish, N.Y., farm and came to Florida on a trip with a friend. He told the family he was never going back to the snow and called them to move down. They supported the children, who include Nadine Baumann of Picayune, Miss., by selling eggs from their hen house and raising replacement cows for dairies.

Red Rooster Road, which leads to the park, got its name from the Lescenski endeavors.

"The feed company that we were buying our feed for

the chickens from put up a beautiful sign: Sleepy Hollow Poultry Farm. I think it was a nice white rooster out there. Everybody wanted to grab the rooster so it got stolen a lot. One day Dad made a copy and we were out of white paint. There was bright red, so he said to use that," Paul Lescenski said.

Although the street was called Sleepy Hollow, people would look for the red rooster, so eventually the name stuck.

"We have to be mindful of its history and the creations of people who created this place," Neal said. "When we build somewhere, we always try to create some history of the place we are creating.

"All of us stand on the shoulders of giants," Neal said. "The Parrishes created a functioning community that has been here 130 years."

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7024, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.

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