Metroparks Meetup: Chess Chests at Wildwood

Metroparks Meetup: Chess Chests at Wildwood
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 7:57 PM EDT
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Thousands of Toledoans use the metroparks daily to walk, run, and bike.... but now those visiting Wildwood Metropark are able to sit down for a game of chess.

Some of Toledo’s Metroparks have those little libraries where you can take a book out and read it for free. Recently, a local chess aficionado had an idea to bring chess to the Toledo Metroparks.

“We lived in New York, and we used to go down to the square and see tremendous chess tables,” said Warren Woodberry, the Chess Director at the Jones Leadership Academy of Business. “When we came back here, I said ‘You know, there should be chess in the park’.”

Warren & his wife Yolanda have been at the Jones Leadership Academy for 10 years now, and they’ve run a very successful after school chess program that has sent kids to compete and win at the state and national levels. When they approached Toledo Metroparks with their idea to bring chess to the parks, inspiration was taken from an existing, weatherproof program.

“I could see the little library that we had where people drop off books, and I thought, well maybe we can do something similar for chess,” explained Trish Hausknecht, the Marketing & Events Manager for Metroparks Toledo. “And we had a great response from our wonderful volunteers who actually built 2 chests for us.”

The idea is to get some fresh air while playing chess for free. “The people who don’t have their own can take out of the box, which makes all the sense in the world,” Woodberry told us.

Here’s a fun challenge: try and say ‘chess chest’ out loud 5 times in row! It’s a tongue twister isn’t it?

The Metroparks have also found visitors adding checkers and decks of cards to the chests. After 40 years of playing chess, Warren firmly believes in the life lessons this timeless game can teach. “With chess there’s so much involved; thinking, planning, if you make a mistake don’t give up. Make the right moves in life, you know the stories of chess. And we enjoy it.”