Collegedale’s newest recreational area, Little Debbie Park, opened near The Commons on June 30 and has since gained popularity on social media.
One park visitor uploaded a video to TikTok on Sept. 9 that amassed 4.9 million views, more than 480,000 likes and more than 170,000 shares. In the video, the visitor, whose username is “idcfe,” talked about her experience in the park and the Little Debbie Bakery Store.
Another visitor whose username is “Ashleyandblairbeauty” uploaded a video on July 2 talking about the McKee family and showcasing the park’s features. It has since garnered more than 16,000 likes and 6,000 shares.
The park seems to be a hit on Instagram as well. A user by the name of “hope.maum” uploaded a seven-second video talking about the park, and the video received five million views and 150,000 likes.
City leaders have noticed that Little Debbie Park has begun attracting tourists, according to a Chattanoogan article. At a Collegedale commission meeting on Aug. 7, City Planner Jason Allin said many online reviews of the park seem very positive, and Collegedale Mayor Morty Llyod said one third of cars seen at the park appear to be carrying out-of-town license plates, the article stated.
Students at Southern Adventist University seem to enjoy the park as well.
“This is one of the better parks that I have seen,” said student Jaden Hutchinson. “Coming from Texas, this park is a lot cleaner as well as a lot bigger than parks back in Texas.”
The park, donated to the city by McKee Foods Corporation, had been in development for a couple years, as the Collegedale Board of Commissioners approved it in April 2021. The park features playground equipment, walking paths, swings, educational signs about McKee Foods’ history and large Little Debbie snack cakes scattered throughout the vicinity.
Although city leaders appear pleased with the park now, the beginning of the park’s development began amid some controversy. According to an ABC News Channel 9 article, plans for the park were negotiated by former City Manager Ted Rogers without informing the other city commissioners, which led to Rogers retiring. In addition to city commissioners feeling left in the dark at first, some citizens felt they were not properly involved during the development stage.
Dennis Gustafson, a resident of Greenbriar Cove, is quoted in the article saying, “We don’t have a problem with the park. We’re just saying the placement of the park should not be by a busy street, and the parking doesn’t belong on a city street. It belongs within the facility.”
The park includes 83 standard parking spaces on Swinyar Drive.