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Buffalo Bayou as seen from the Rosemont bridges.

Image: Shutterstock

Though it seems unfathomable that it's only been a year since the launch of Buffalo Bayou Park, it's true: the 160-acre green space between Shepherd and Sabine has totally transformed the stretch of bayou running west from downtown since its grand opening on October 6 last year. This Thursday, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership invites the public out to celebrate its 1st anniversary in fine Houston fashion, with free birthday cake courtesy of Nothing Bundt Cakes and free beer courtesy of Saint Arnold (both while supplies last).

The birthday party kicks off Thursday, October 6 at 4 p.m. at the Water Works (the new park entry park near the Jamail Skatepark just off the Sabine St. bridge), offering food truck fare from Colonel Eats and Foreign Policy, $5.50 root beer floats from Fat Cat Creamery and music from DJ collective A Fistful of Soul until 8 p.m. You'll also find lawn games laid out to play and the Inprint Poetry Buskers roaming the park, writing personalized poems upon request.

Though it's been a full year since it first opened, the Buffalo Bayou Park has been years in the making. Since issuing its groundbreaking master plan in 2002—Buffalo Bayou and Beyond—the Partnership has worked to recreate our city's most significant body of water into a civic centerpiece that can be enjoyed by all Houstonians, all year round. And they're not stopping at Allen's Landing, where the newly renovated Sunset Coffee Building now houses the Partnership's headquarters in addition to a bike/paddlecraft rental facility and the soon-to-open Sunset Cafe.

The next phase of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership's plan looks east, along the bayou to the Turning Basin. Along these banks, too, they're refurbishing parks and bridges and reclaiming land to be restored or recreated into nature preserves and wetlands. Evidence of their progress can already be seen at the 10-acre Buffalo Bend Nature Park and the 19-acre Tony Marron Park, with more to come in future years.

If you can't make it to tomorrow's birthday celebration, make it a point to get out and spend time in Buffalo Bayou Park this weekend. The advent of slightly cooler weather and the natural beauty of the park should be encouragement enough, but in case it's not, consider downloading the new Buffalo Bayou Revealed audio experience, a 12-part audio tour led by Houston Public Media's own Ernie Manouse, Catherine Lu, Tom Carter and Al Ortiz.

Audio tours are also available in Spanish, and each of the dozen parts lasts around one to two minutes—just enough to take you through the park while giving you plenty of quiet time to enjoy the serenity of a sanctuary in the middle of the city.

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