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February 26, 2014
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU alumni's documentary film touts first park in America

Scott Spinucci, a 1991 Slippery Rock University communication graduate, has had his most-recent documentary film "America's First Park: River Common," based on the origin of the nation's first park that was established in Wilkes-Barre, aired on Fox, CW and MyTV.

Spinucci, a Wilkes-Barre native, now with AppleCart Films and Integrated Media Services, is continuing to work with elected officials for a national monument celebrating the park's founding.

The film is a follow up to his earlier 30-minute video "River Common," which was made for Luzerne County. The film related to the park's origins, but primarily focused on a multi-million dollar River Common construction project under way in the area.

The latest film "uncovers the extraordinary history" of America's first park, Spinucci said. The documentary, narrated by Wilbur Fitzgerald, best known for "Hunger Games: Catching Fire," with a sound track by Bret Alexander of Badlees and George Wesley, is available as a DVD at:

The River Common is located along the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre, but its origins had long been forgotten. Spinucci's research showed the Wilkes-Barre Borough's Town Council "Act of Assembly," which was passed more than 200 years ago, established the River Common as America's oldest official park on record. The council set the land aside Aug. 16, 1809 "as a public common to remain as such forever," he said.

The documentary outlines how in 1769, Col. John Durkee laid out Wilkes-Barre - bringing public parks to the new town. He declared the Common and the diamond-shaped public square to be "public, undivided lands." That simple gesture of democracy - a place for all town folk to gather - played a significant role in the forming of parks throughout the United States of America, Spinucci said.

 "Of all the firsts that Wilkes-Barre holds, having America's first park is amazing and ought to be honored properly. I knew the Common was vital to Wilkes-Barre's revitalization - a part of our wonderful legacy - albeit unknown to most - but I never realized its significance in terms of our national heritage, until now," Spinucci said.

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