Monday, May 3rd dawned sunny and bright as Build Week for the new Soldotna Playground got underway. What began with piles of materials has transformed a dream into a reality, in just seven days. "This is a custom built playground. It was not a pre-assembled package, we had 77,000 some thousand pounds of raw material delivered to the site," volunteer coordinator Amy Hogue told the Dispatch. The first day eager volunteers showed up with hammers, saws, and shovels in hand and by pizza break time at noon, many of the materials were being placed in pre-dug holes and lumber was being moved to the saw tables. Tuesday was equally as sunny, and the enthusiasm of the volunteers was increasing as everyone started getting a sense of what needed to be done. As some of the area's professional craftsman joined the effort during the week, the donation of their time and skills was reminiscent of a scene from TV's "Extreme Home Makeover" program.
It was less than two years ago when a couple of young mothers in the Soldotna area, Dana McDonald and Dana Cannava, decided that Soldotna really needed a great playground for our kids and started talking with community leaders and civic organizations about how such a project might become accomplished. "To me this has been a great American success story and anyone who came by during work week knows what I'm talking about. By mid week we had already had more than 600 volunteers fill out work release forms and I brought over 300 more," said Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche. "It shows you what this kind of community spirit can accomplish, and it's contagious, look at the list of donors and you'll literally see the name of almost everyone in town that participated in one way or another to make this gift to our kids and improvement to all of our quality of life happen. It was created with love, designed by the kids that will be playing on it, and built with 100% private dollars, it's like a gift from the people to the people or our community," he said.
The entire community was invited to turn out for Build Week and sign up for shifts of two hours or more explained Amy Hogue. "And turn out they did, with hammers and wheel barrows they came, those who were handy with tools and those who had never used them before, they came to cook and serve food, watch children, paint and plant plants, they came under sunny skies and they stayed through the rainy days to make the dream of a brand new, totally unique playground a reality," she said. Sunday at the official Soldotna Community Playground ribbon cutting, everyone was treated to barbeque complements of ConocoPhillips and the joy of watching the first children climbing and playing on the new equipment, "The smiles on their faces made it all worthwhile," said Dana.
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