A memorial bench is one of the most common ways that people choose to commemorate a loved one in public. In addition to serving as a lasting memorial, it makes the park just a little bit more comfortable and pleasant for the people who make use of it. The process of dedicating the bench takes a little bit of time and effort, and every jurisdiction is a little bit different, but the general process tends to be the same in the majority of parks.
Start with Research
The dedication process begins with research. Make a list of all the local parks that you are considering for the dedication. Once you know your options, look through their websites to see if they have posted their rules and policies for dedicating benches. Most larger parks will allow people to adopt an existing bench and have posted policies for doing so. Smaller parks may not list that information on their site, which forces you to do a little more research.
If a park does not provide that information, check the government department that runs it. A government website is likely to have that information if it enforces a standard policy across all of the parks that it manages. If it does not have that information, it may provide a link to a place that can provide it.
If no standard rules have been posted, you will need to call or otherwise send a message to the group that manages the park. Smaller parks that have not had this kind of request before may need to do a little research of their own to figure out if they have any old rules in place. In that case, give them your contact information and wait a reasonable amount of time for them to get back to you, before calling them back if they seem to have forgotten about the request.
Design the Plaque
The vast majority of parks will require you to adopt an existing bench rather than building a new one. When that happens, you place a commemorative plaque on the bench with an inscription of your choice. Many of the plaques have a standardized size, shape, and set of decorations, but there are some jurisdictions that allow you to choose some of those elements. Most parks have other rules about what can and cannot go on the plaque, and you should familiarize yourself with them before you get started.
You should start the design process by determining how much space is available on the plaque, since that is the factor that determines how much text you can fit on it. If your jurisdiction allows decorations other than text, you should pick those out next, since they will take up a large amount of space on the plaque.
Finally, choose the words that you want the plaque to display. The message should be concise, because most people are not going to be read a long string of text on a bench. A long message also forces you to keep the font small, which makes it much harder to read. Most people will prefer to use a formal tone, since that is the most common option among memorials. Focus on the person who is being memorialized by providing their name, and possibly a major life achievement or a thing that they loved. If possible, make sure that it ties into the park or nature itself in some way to keep things as topical as possible.
Complete the Dedication
The final part of the process is the easiest. Get in touch with the park’s management and inform them that you are ready to to dedicate the bench. Most of them will require you to fill out some paperwork and pay a fee, which will cover the cost of adding the plaque and maintaining the bench in the future. Once that has been settled, give them your design and any other relevant information.
Most parks will need several weeks to prepare the plaque and get it in place, with some taking as long as a couple of months to get everything settled. It can be hard to wait that long to see the finished memorial, but your patience will be rewarded when it is finally unveiled. If the park holds a ceremony to recognize the dedication, be sure to attend!