Share this article

print logo

New self-guided mobile audio tours reveal history of Delaware Park

Delaware Park’s Rose Garden once was considered as a possible site for Kleinhans Music Hall.

Hoyt Lake originally was known as Gala Water.

There are 300 soldiers from the War of 1812 buried beneath the park’s golf course.

These are just three facts you will find on a new, self-guided mobile audio tour of the 350-acre jewel of the Olmsted park system.

The new tour was unveiled Tuesday morning, and it promises to be an eye-opener, even for area natives.

Thirteen sites are highlighted in the tour, which can be accessed via smartphones at

You will find printed maps in weather-resistant literature boxes, as well as a seasonal sign at each location, noting its three-digit code on the tour. And you don’t have to follow the tour in any particular order.

The mobile program, sponsored by M&T Bank, was designed and developed by Buffalo native Ken Kozaczka and powered by Tourwand, the company he founded.

“The inspiration was my children; I have three young children,” said Kozaczka, who explained that he wanted to give them an opportunity to learn more at cultural sites where signage was minimal or nonexistent.

Jim Mendola, a volunteer for the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, tackled the content, which is presented in 45- to 60-second narratives.

“I have been volunteering at the archives for about five years, just slowly absorbing the hide-in-plain-sight fun facts of the parks,” said Mendola, who prepared the scripts.

Jordan Lema of Lemur Studios handled audio production of the narrations, which were recorded by Linda Pellegrino of WKBW-TV.

With a wealth of information to draw from, Mendola said he tried to spread the tour stops around the park.

“I think all the other Olmsted parks have equal stories that can be revealed,” he said.

The tour appeared to be an instant hit.

“We put the signs up and people were already helping themselves to the maps,” said Maureen Hanagan, a spokeswoman for the conservancy. “Ideally, we would love to get a sponsor for each park.”

Nancy Brock, program director for the M&T Charitable Foundation, said: “M&T understands how important an asset the Olmsted Park system is to our community. These wonderful new audio tours will help deepen that understanding among those visiting our community, and for those of us who know Delaware Park well.”

Mayor Byron W. Brown already is on board with expanding the audio tour program.

“We are very pleased with how well this came out,” he said Tuesday morning. “The folks that did the technical work and the archival work have done a fantastic job.”