New Rhode Island park to honor 'Chocolateville'

Associated Press

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's newest park is set to be dedicated in Central Falls this weekend as a tribute to the city's history as a center of chocolate manufacturing.

The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council is formally dedicating the Chocolate Mill Overlook in Rhode Island's smallest city on Saturday.

The park will include several interpretive panels about the city's history as "Chocolateville." It was once home to the Wheat Chocolate Mill, which the council says was America's first.

The mill owned by William Wheat manufactured chocolate for local consumption and also likely for the military, according to a history prepared for the Confectioners Mill Preservation Society.

"That permanent piece of Central Falls' history is finally going to be memorialized," said Robert Billington, executive director of the tourism council and the park's administrator.

Billington said the council is still raising money toward a $35,000 matching grant from chocolate maker Mars Inc., a major donor to the preservation society.

The park on the Blackstone River will also include cherry trees donated by the Japanese government on the 100th anniversary of that country's gift to the U.S. of trees planted at the Tidal Basin in Washington.

The opening of the park is part of the annual Rhode Island Cherry Blossom Festival.

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