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As the Lone Ranger used to say, “My work here is done.”

The Friends of Pioneer Park echoed that sentiment earlier this month as the group disbanded.

“It’s been a good run. What started out as an expected one year project somehow became more than five years. But we did a lot more in the park than we originally set out to do, and you can all be proud,” said FPP President Fiddaman in a letter to other board members.

FPP are responsible for getting the new gazebo built at the park, and many other improvements.

The idea for the group grew from the need to replace the old gazebo in the park, due to its physical deterioration.

Built in preparation for Calistoga’s centennial celebration in 1985, the original wooden gazebo had, in its 27-year life span, hosted untold art shows, Shakespearean performances, weddings and “Music in the Park” concerts. In that time it has become a favorite of both the citizens and tourists who seek out the quiet of the park.

The gazebo had been on the city’s list of projects for a number of years, but the city was short of money for such capital improvements.

So, FPP was formed in early 2013 to raise funds from the community and to build a new gazebo in time for the 2014 Music in the Park season.

What started as an informal committee was formalized as a California non-profit corporation that has obtained tax-exempt status from the IRS.

Members of FPP included a wide coalition of Calistogans, including local businesses, schools, service clubs, neighbors of the park, city leaders, and also a wide range of talents available, from design to landscaping, construction, finance, and of course fundraising.

Over the years the Friends raised $500,000 toward improvements to the park including not only the gazebo, but went on to fund and engineer many other upgrades to the park including a new layout of paths, landscaping, fencing, and lighting.

Architect Tom Stimpert designed the new gazebo and it was built by John Johnson with substantial pro bono work by local contractors.

“Our thanks to the over 200 Calistogans who donated to this effort,” Fiddaman said on behalf of FPP. The Calistoga lodging industry also provided major funding.

Though it was a group effort, Fiddaman’s leadership was also a factor.

“He’s very organized and capable. Our meetings were low-key with no drama,” said board member Karen Chang.

At a city council meeting March 5, Fiddaman presented a check for nearly $33,000 in unused funds to the city.

“Our work is done,” he said.

As a nonprofit dissolves, it is required to give any leftover funds to another nonprofit. The money was given to the city with the stipulation that it be used for further park projects.

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You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at or 942-4035.


The Weekly Calistogan Editor