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Is it Global Warming when Pink Flamingos land in Soldotna?

Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pink Flamingos may not be a traditional Holiday dcor, but none the less a flock of the plastic pink tropical birds appeared in front of the Soldotna Visitors Center located near the bridge last week. "We didn't do it, it was done unto us!" exclaimed Michelle Glaves, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce executive director. "We were officially 'flocked' as the citation posted on my door read. There were fifty-some flamingos by Les and the Bench when we came in to work Monday and the ransom letter stated that for a donation to the Soldotna Playground the flamingos will happily fly away to a location of our choosing," said Glaves. Since the Chamber's flocking, the birds have stealthily congregated at McDonalds for some fries, and made their way over for a workout at the Fitness Place.

The flamingo flocking is just part of what is ramping up to be a very exciting winter for the Soldotna Community Playground Committee. At last week's Soldotna City Council meeting, the winners of the playground essay contest were honored and presented with their prizes by Mayor Peter Micciche. According to volunteer Marcia Jacobs, more than 50 local children submitted original essays focused on "What having a new community playground means to me." The ages of the children ranged from 3-15. There were three first-place winners, and three second-place winners. In first place for the 3-7 year old group, was Elizabeth Siemion, and second place went to Miah Mead. In the 8-12 year old group, Ashlyn Johnson took first place with Ashley Martin capturing second. For the 13-17 year olds, Madeline Ransom garnered first and Kyle Kanarowski took second place. "We are thrilled with the response and enthusiasm, for not only our essay contest, but for the playground itself. The kids really poured their hearts out about how much they want this new, amazing playground for themselves, their families and friends and even for their own future children," said Dana McDonald, general coordinator for Soldotna Community Playground.

First place winners received an Ipod and second place winners won movie passes. "I think that if people see a family-oriented playground, more people will want to move here and it'll be like a magnet for our community, which will secure our future here," said 15-year-old Madeline Ransom.

Another exciting announcement came last week from the Community Playground committee, as they announced they had raised more than $100,000; an important milestone for the playground scheduled to be built next May. The $100,000 threshold was crossed December 11, when a local family generously donated $10,000 to the project. The Rosin family, owners of the Duck Inn and Kenai River Lodge, made the contribution. They join Soldotna Community Playground's other top-tier donors including Central Peninsula Hospital, which donated $25,000 last spring, Fred Meyer, which donated $10,000 last summer, and several $5,000 level donors including Peninsula Internal Medicine, BP, Chevron and the Leavens Foundation. "Fundraising has been challenging in this economy, but crossing the $100,000 mark really shows how strong our community support is," said McDonald. With a budget of between $150,000 and $250,000, Soldotna Community Playground's volunteer organizers are not nearly done with their fundraising efforts and they say the push is on to raise as much as possible in time to order supplies and equipment for "Build Week" May 3, 2010. In-kind donations are being sought as well. The playground will be scaled up or down to match the funds available.

Additionally the Soldotna Community Playground is holding a Beer Tasting festival January 8 at the Challenger Learning Center. Guests can sample and enjoy several fine, unique brews, as well as tasty appetizers from Charlotte's and participate in raffles and an auction. Tickets cost $40 each and are on sale now. Other fundraising events are being planned as well. Please visit www.soldotnacommunityplayground.com for more information.

"Volunteers are always needed to assist us with fundraising, and with our many upcoming events, as well as with our build in May. Please visit us at www.soldotnacommunityplayground.com for more information on volunteering or contributing to this amazing project," added Marcia Jacobs.

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