Woodland Park Wedding
Russell Hooks and Amber Karasiewicz married at Woodland Park on Oct. 13.
In 1994, teacher Ann Damsgard and her Edgewood Elementary School fifth grade class turned a small piece of land left over from a housing development off Edgewood Boulevard into Woodland Park.
“It was in sad condition and overgrown,” Damsgard said. “Kids would play in it and climb trees, but it was mainly just not a nice place to be.”
The “Woodland Park Rangers” Damgsard started began working alongside the city of Homewood to turn the piece of land into something more.
“How many kids have never climbed a tree or been to the creek? City kids don’t always get to do that,” Damsgard said. “There were a lot of people who were interested, and the city thought it was worth fixing it up.”
Eighteen years later, Woodland Park Ranger Russell Hooks, 29, married Amber Karasiewicz in the memorable spot on Oct. 13.
“We were looking around at different venues, and Woodland Park is kind of outrageous hidden gem of the Birmingham area,” Hooks said. “I thought it would be nice to have an outdoor fall wedding.”
One of the couple’s first dates was at Woodland Park, and they both liked the idea of getting married at a place that marked so much of their history.
“Having that personal tie with the park is very neat,” Hooks said.
In order to enjoy the atmosphere of the park, Hooks and Karasiewicz had reception games such as giant jenga and corn hole.
Damsgard is now retired from teaching but is still involved in the Homewood community. She was thrilled that the Woodland Park project is still a part of Hooks’ life.
“It’s really special to hear that he finds some peace and joy in what we did. Those memories are powerful,” Damsgard said. “It was probably a little unusual for a class to make a difference in the community and in our world, and obviously he carried that with him for a while.”
Hooks hopes that by having his wedding at Woodland Park he can draw more attention back to the location.
“Since Amber and I had one of our first dates there, we thought it needed love,” Hooks said. “I think it’s a valuable place to Homewood. It would make me happy if more people in Homewood knew about it and got to go and enjoy it.”
Vendors for the wedding were: Kathy Milam of The Alabama Gift Company in Gadsden, event planning; Evelyn Criswell Catering; and Tammy Pope of Homewood, photography.