Oak Park in Minot, N.D. is the winner of the second annual Coca-Cola America Is Your Park campaign. People cast more than 13 million votes for their favorite parks online and from parks around the country this summer.

In addition to winning the prestigious title of “America’s Favorite Park,” Oak Park was awarded a $100,000 recreation grant made possible by the Coca-Cola Live Positively initiative. Second and third-place winners also received grants – Soudan Underground Mine State Park in Soudan, Minn., and Cunningham Park in Joplin, Mo., received $50,000 and $25,000 grants, respectively.

Coca-Cola collaborated with the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks and the National Recreation and Park Association to award recreation grants to parks across the country. The grants will be used to restore, rebuild or enhance places for people of all ages to be active outdoors. In addition to millions of online voters, many others came out to local health and wellness events hosted by Coca-Cola in select cities across the country.

“America’s parks are cherished places where families and friends can enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors while being active and having fun,” said L. Celeste Bottorff, vice president, Living Well, Coca-Cola North America. “This year, our friendly competition saw a number of communities come together to rally support for parks affected by natural disasters. We are honored to have been able to play a role in helping local communities give back to their favorite parks through the America Is Your Park campaign.

The competition to find “America’s Favorite Park” ignited social media platforms, mobilized entire communities and even caught the attention of celebrities and local dignitaries. For the top three parks, each affected by some form of disaster in recent months, the competition brought additional attention and community support.

“The flood this past summer destroyed Oak Park and, for a large part, the spirit and hope in our community,” said Ron Bieri, President, Minot Park Board. “Thanks to Coca-Cola, the people of Minot are energized and through the grant we will be able to restore the park so families will have a place to play together again.”

Over the past 40 years, Coca-Cola has donated more than $14 million for restoration and renovation of our country’s parks through programs like America Is Your Park.

In addition to donating $175,000 to the top three winning parks, Coca-Cola also gave $70,000 in grants to national, state and local parks this summer at health and wellness events in select cities across the country. These events featured Women’s National Basketball Association FIT Clinics, appearances from local dignitaries and grant presentations. Other parks that made it into the top ten include: Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park (Elizabethton, TN); Jekyll Island State Park (Jekyll Island, GA); McGrath State Beach (Oxnard, CA); Mason Neck State Park (Lorton, VA); Lake Warren State Park (Hampton, SC); Ponca State Park (Ponca, NE); and, Amicalola Falls State Park (Dawsonville, GA).

Winning parks

Oak Park is owned and operated by the Minot Park District. Before it was damaged by a flood in 2011, it served as a gathering place for families, with a splash park, picnic shelters, walking trails, an accessible playground (Magic Smiles Playground), sand volleyball court and other amenities. The park plans to use the $100,000 recreation grant to help restore the park so families can be active together again.

Soudan Underground Mine State Park near Ely is home to Minnesota's oldest iron ore mine, which operated from 1882 until 1962. In recent years, approximately 30,000 visitors annually have donned hard hats and descended a half-mile underground in a cage to take part in the interpretive programs within the historic mine. The park also offers tours of an underground physics lab, where scientists from around the world are studying how the universe works. Underground tours are not available at this time due to ongoing repair work from a fire in March 2011, but above-ground opportunities include interpretive programs, hiking and geocaching.

Cunningham Park is Joplin’s first city park, located in the southwest section of the city. On May 22, 2011, Cunningham was completely destroyed by a tornado that left the community without the tennis and basketball courts, playground and pool that made the park so popular. The park plans to use the $25,000 recreation grant to rebuild the playground and picnic shelters, plant trees and build a memorial dedicated to tornado victims and the many volunteers that aided in rescue and recovery.