This park was named in March, 1963 to honor Marie B. Ellis, a community pioneer who planted flowers and trees to improve the appearance of the park. She ensured that the plants would live and grow by hand watering them with water carted from the homes of neighbors around the park.
In 1941, she also started the Easter Celebration and Parade, which is still recognized each year. Starting at the park, participants ceremoniously stroll down Laura Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard before returning to the park for the Easter program and egg hunt.
In the early 2000s, with input from a neighborhood group, city staff developed a concept plan for revitalization of the park. Improvements made include construction of a picnic pavilion and restrooms, shuffleboard courts, gazebo and volleyball court, along with improvements to parking, signage and irrigation/landscaping.
On January 24, 2011, the City Commission approved Resolution 12-2011 naming the shuffleboard courts at the park in memory of long time educator Donald Goodwine (1941-2009). In addition to serving on the city's Board of Adjustment, Mr. Goodwine was the leader of a community-based group that worked with city staff to create a conceptual plan to lay out the activities and amenities that has made Marie B. Ellis Park a premier neighborhood park in the city.
He took it upon himself to train neighborhood youth to respect and care for the park. In his desire to ensure that they would be able to participate in activities that would make them productive and keep them out of trouble, he purchased equipment for shuffleboard, basketball and horseshoes at the park.
Sources: Focus Magazine, Plant City Photo Archives and History Center, Plant City: It's Origins and History by Quintilla Geer Bruton and D.E. Bailey