This week, we’re wrapping up a community project we started last week to bring hope to my hometown.

Marianna, Florida is my hometown, and in late 2018 it was devastated by Hurricane Michael. This building on the town square was destroyed in the storm and the vacant lot it left behind was a daily reminder of the devastation.

So, I wanted to create something positive to fill the space.

Working with Long-Time Friends

This was the right project to re-energize Marianna, but I needed help to make it happen, so I called on my buddies who still live there.

Paul is an architect, and he put together the plan for a pocket park. Victor is the organizational wiz who lined up the details, and Mickey, well, everybody loves Mickey, and he was the right guy to drum up community support.

So, Chelsea and I headed to Marianna.

Two workers build a wooden stage and backdrop in Marianna, Florida

The Progress We’ve Made

More than 150 volunteers turned out to lend a hand for this pocket park. In just two days, we’ve cleared the old slab, built a stage, installed six enormous wood planters, built a paver planter, and constructed a retaining wall at the entryway.

We knew, from the beginning, that we need to divide the work into off-site and on-site projects.

One of the off-site projects was building gigantic planters, and Marianna High School students tackled that project. Another off-site project was building picnic tables.

Workers move heavy picnic tables, with construction machinery, into a pocket park in Marianna, Florida

Immovable Picnic Tables

Scott Phelps, the construction tech instructor at Chipola College, guided students who tackled the picnic tables. Each table is made of 100 pieces and it takes five people to move one around, so no one will take them from the park!

These students also created the park’s sign that will provide an entryway.
Building the Entryway

We set two steel posts that will support the park’s sign — then we wrap them in pavers to dress up the entry.

Building 9-foot-tall paver columns, and creating a paver block wall to flow behind those posts, will make this one eye-catching entrance.  

Theresa Vickery, of Marianna, Florida, works in a container garden at a downtown pocket park

Softening the Look

My buddy Mickey is this project’s on-site coordinator. He keeps volunteers’ spirits up as they work on all kinds of tasks, liking planting plants to soften the park’s look.

That’s not my strong suit, but it is Victor’s wife, Theresa’s, talent.

She makes sure we have low-maintenance, drought-resistant plants for this Northwest Florida region. Theresa knows where to position the plants and directs volunteers on where to place everything.

Purple and gold shade sail, seen over a pocket park in Marianna, Florida

Installing Shade Sail

We top this pocket park with purple-and-gold shade sails, which have special meaning because they are Marianna High School’s colors. Go Bulldogs!

Town pride aside, shade sail also prevents the park’s visitors from being completely exposed to the sun, perfect for particularly sunny days.

Besides that little chore, there are also lots of other details that need to be handled so we can get this park ready to open up to the public.

“Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford installs cafe lights in a pocket park in downtown Marianna, Florida

Finishing Touches

This pocket park in my hometown is nearing completion, with dozens and dozens of plants going into the nine different planters on the site.

And of course, those plants need water, so we’re also camouflaging the plumbing with pavers.

Finally, to illuminate this park after dark, we hang over 500 feet of cafe lights.

Before we park the heavy equipment, we bring in the picnic tables to fill in the park space and get it ready for the grand opening.

“Today’s Homeowner” hosts Danny Lipford and Chelsea Lipford Wolf, seen at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a pocket park in Marianna, Florida

Symbol of Hope

Now, an empty lot that once was a bad reminder of a bad time has become a symbol of hope.

Besides adding some greenery and tranquility to the middle of town, this little park also serves as a testament to what people can overcome and accomplish when they work together.

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Editorial Contributors
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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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