Hazel Park's Dairy Park

When growing up as a child, there was a local treat that my mother would take me to, it was an ice cream shop shaped like a barn.  The small house next to it had these plastic animals in it that was fun to look at as we would sit at the picnic table eating our ice cream.  Not a far drive from where we lived, this was a treat we enjoyed on hot summer days.  They had shakes, malts, cones, banana splits and more, even hot food like hot dogs.  The Dairy Park is a place that people could go for some really good affordable food.

Even though I went there since I was a little kid, it wasn’t until the mid 90’s that the owners of the shop started to really know who I was, as we would go there after doing Party Turtle gigs.  I would show up in full costume to order my ice cream, go to the car and get the costume off before enjoying the snack.  The owners of the place were Ralph and Margaret, two really nice people.  Margaret was always a blast to talk to and she got to know me as the Turtle Girl.   Even after doing Turtle parties, I was always wearing my TMNT shirts, hats, and coats.  It was never hard to spot me when I would come around.

 Some of my favorites there were an ice cream cone dipped in butterscotch with sprinkles, their strawberry malts were amazing, and if you ordered a flurry you got as much candy or snacks in it as ice cream. They never gave you the feeling of being jipped on your toppings.  And really the banana splits were so full of flavor you could never go wrong with it.  Opening in 1972, the Dairy Park has stood through Michigan’s rough times as their food and prices were always worth returning for.

Whenever friends would be in town and there was mention of getting treats, this would be the place I would bring them to.  The hardest part was they were always a cash only place, so we would have to drive off to an ATM to get money before going there.  But it was always worth it, going up and having a laugh while ordering our food with some of the nicest people you could meet.  Margaret would often be in there with the other employees taking our orders and fixing up our snacks.  I would look for her once coming up to the place to say hi. I took this wonderful spot for granted throughout the years, as if it would always remain the same and always be there just as it was.  I was thrilled when I saw the sign in their window that they were made into a Historical business of Hazel Park.  That just had me even more sure it was there to stay.  Little did I know that the last time I went there with my mom, sister and brother would be the last time I would see the Dairy Park as it always was.

The four of us piled into the car if only a month ago and went to the Dairy Park as my sister was treating us for a snack.  I got my favorite, the Strawberry Malt.  Margaret was there so I had a chance to say hi to her before leaving.  It was the first time my family has gone there together in a long time. The next visit was not so good.  A few weeks ago, we tried to go to the Dairy Park.  It was the middle of the day and would normally be open, but once we got there, it was closed down.  No signs of why, just the closed sign in the window.  So we went on our way, concerned.  Last week we tried again, only to find that same closed sign in the window.  The fence was wide open to the little house.  Now our concern turned into true worry.  A few days later, Belle called me up and asked if I knew what was going on with the Dairy Park.  She told me that the day it closed there was police cars and yellow do not cross tape.  This is when my heart just sank low.  What could've happened to this wonderful place??

I got on Google looking for information, though all I found were clearly rumors.  So I went to the next best place to search, Facebook.  There is a group for Dairy Park, there I found that Ralph and Margaret’s granddaughter is on the page confirming some sad news.  Ralph passed away in his sleep.  The Dairy Park has been sold for $125,000, along with the small house.  Rumor has it that it was an employee  who bought the place up.

To Margaret and her family, my heart goes out to all of you.  You have been a part of my life as long as I can remember.  I have fuzzy memories from being a kid and running to that fence to see the horses as my mom would go and order our food.  I remember the hot summer days when I go for ice cream after wearing my heavy costume for four to five hours, we would stop in and the smiles on everyone's faces that we saw.  I remember all the great conversations we’ve had.  Your family has touched our lives and I want to thank you for everything!

On May 14th, I returned to the Dairy Park to find it open.  Margaret was there, so I got to go up and say hello to her.  The Dairy Park has new owners, though she is still managing the place.  I was very happy to see her, so Miki and I went up and ordered some flurries.  The ice cream just as tasty as it always has been.  The best place in town for Ice Cream!  If you ever come to Hazel Park, Michigan look up this wonderful ice cream place!

Have you been to the Dairy Park?  If so and you would like to share your thoughts please do so below.

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Michele Ivey's picture

I'm glad you enjoyed the write up. The DP has brought my family many great memories. I wish your family the best and look forward to see your Grandmother as long as she's still with DP.

This brought a tear to my eye. What wonderful memories you have shared. I love my grandparents so much & was so so happy that they both got to meet 2 great-grandsons &yes both were treated to the DP. I miss him very much. I'm so glad I stumbled across this while trying to find a pic of the DP.

My earliest memory of the Dairy Park, I think was a teen, on my bike, with my friend David Moore. My folks may have taken me earlier, because we would pass, it all the time. Going back and forth, to my grandparent's house. They make the BEST BANANA SPLITS, I've ever had. I Thank Them for that. Yeah, being my favorite ice cream place, of course I would take my kids back, to their place of business. They have always treated us very well. Michele woke me up out of sound sleep, in the wee hours, of the morning, to tell me the news, when she found. So sorry to hear about the loss, but so happy to know we still have our Dairy Park. I hope they always keep doing it the same way as before. And I wish Margaret well, and best of luck.