Out of the Proctor community’s supply of recreational facilities, Klang Park is known largely as a center for youth sports, and especially as the host of little league baseball. What many may not know is the significance in its name, or its historic ties to the Proctor School District.
Originally, Klang Park was a small neighborhood green space called “Missabe Park,” which was utilized throughout the 1930s and adorned with walking paths, gazebos, and an open field for general recreation. Notably hosting band concerts and softball games, Missabe Park hosted little development, but offered a venue for multiple community uses in Duluth’s Bay View Heights neighborhood. But as the result of a long-felt desire for greater development on the site, a group called the Bay View Community Club formed to further develop the neighborhood park in 1945.
With World War II fresh in their minds upon dedication, citizens presented the park to the City of Duluth in honor of the men and women who served in WWII from Bay View and Proctor. In particular, this dedication acknowledged the ultimate price of Lawrence Klang, a U.S. technical sergeant, Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient, and the first Proctor soldier to be killed in the War.
Really a place of reflection and recreation for the community, time passed with minimal use of the park for about a decade, but Proctor Superintendent A. I. Jedlicka soon had ideas for how the green space could be used. With the high school less than a block away, he envisioned an opportunity for the high school athletic teams to utilize the space for football, baseball, track, tennis, and more. And in the ’50s, as a part of his 10-year plan to restructure Proctor Schools, he launched efforts to acquire Klang Park for the school district. Of course, it was a successful campaign (as the parkland is still owned by Proctor Schools), and the convenient proximity to East Side School (then-Proctor High School) enabled considerable use for students.
By the 1970s, the 8.9-acre park mostly resembled its current layout, with a few additional features. Then, the park included a little league field, an athletic track encircling a football field, three tennis courts, minor play equipment (i.e. teeter-totters and a jungle gym), and a maintenance shed. The tennis courts and gym equipment, however, were removed after lack of maintenance eventually led to liability concerns.
In 1997, Klang Park was rededicated with updated playground equipment, utilizing funds from the City of Duluth, Proctor Schools, and the Department of the Army Co. C 367th Engineering Battalion. Since the re-dedication, further upgrades have been made. Facilities have been greatly updated to the little league field, and most recently, a second little league baseball diamond has been added to the park.
Although utilized as a staple in the Proctor community, the history and significance of Klang Park at its inception has slowly been lost over time. Nevertheless, the park’s ongoing heritage represents important foundations of service and community that continue in Proctor today.