HOUSTON - If you have ever visited Memorial Park, you know there are a lot of characters.
From a man running in a tutu to someone walking around the trail with a bird on their shoulder, runners and walkers in the park have seen it all. The new book, “People of Memorial Park, Stories From Houston’s Favorite Trail,” tells the stories of 45 different people.
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Bob Bunoza (page 24) is known to many as the “Bird Man” of Memorial Park. Just about every day for 10 years, he has fed the birds, usually right out of his hand. Sometimes he feeds the birds right on top of his head.
He said, "Throwing down on the ground, she has to fight and probably not going to win. So she figured out if she comes on top of my head that's a breakfast in a bag for free. She outsmarts everybody!"
The former semi-professional soccer player if from Croatia and is a former distance runner. Bunoza’s story is just one of 45 in Stacy Holden’s new colorful coffee table book released this weekend.
Holden said, "When you go to Memorial Park, you're one of 10,000 people who are there every day. But you feel like you have a part of it. You feel like you're important. You feel like the park is a part of you."
Holden is a dedicated runner who debuted her book at Luke’s Locker on West Gray Street in Houston Friday morning during packet pickup for the weekend’s half marathon.
The book tells the story of where countless athletes train, some for a race, others for life.
Holden said, “I think the biggest thing that surprised me was how important the park is to peoples' lives every day. It's not just a place they go to work out. It's a place that has helped many people overcome difficulties in their lives."
And that brought us back to Bunoza the “Bird Man" or as others call him “The Mayor of Memorial Park.”
He is a cancer survivor. As he feeds the birds, the park feeds his soul and the thousands who hit the trail every day.
Bunoza said, "I'm living proof. Staying active pays off later in the life."
For more on the book, the author and the release party, please go here.