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by Torie McCloy
Leland Reed always wanted a playground with a dragon slide where he could climb up to the dragon's head and slide down to its tail. Now, the 9-year-old is getting it.
Reed and many other children in kindergarten through fourth-grade talked with Leathers and Associates, a designing firm from Ithaca, N.Y., nearly a year ago about what they wanted in a playground. Then company engineers designed it -- the Castle Creek Playground for Fetterman Park in Grafton.
The playground, which will be built Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, is valued at $150,000. Organizers hope to cut down on the cost by getting volunteers to help build the playground. The group raised about $70,000 by holding bake sales, carnivals and donation drives.
Plans are to man three, four-hour shifts of 100 volunteers each day during the five-day building period. Organizers are searching for volunteers to fill those slots.
"We really need people," said co-organizer Thea Porter. "All we want is four hours of their time."
The multi-level castle will cover about 1/4-acre near the pavilion in Fetterman Park. It will feature a castle maze and throne room, an amphitheater, a sand castle, a moat sandbox, a snake tube slide, a twisty slide, a tower, the dragon slide, a dinosaur tunnel, a dollhouse, a town center, a balance beam, a trolley ride, monkey bars, a tree fort, an eagles' nest, swinging tires, a tight rope walk, a ring bridge, a wiggle bridge, a tot lot, the spider web, a cargo net, a train and train station and a history walk.
And, the playground will be accessible to disabled children.
The project started with a few parents talking about the disrepair of the playground, Porter said. Porter started checking into prices for playground equipment and found that it was too costly for the community. So, residents decided to take a grassroots approach.
"We're getting a lot more playground by doing it ourselves," Porter said.
The playground will be the biggest in Taylor County. It will be built with furniture-quality wood covered in trex, a splinter-preventing cover. It also will be surrounded by a foot of wood-fiber padding.
"It follows all the safety requirements ever dreamed of," Porter said. "And, it will be gorgeous."
Reed said he doesn't care about gorgeous; just that it is fun. He said he and his friends can't wait to slide down that dragon. They think it will be pretty cool.
To volunteer, call Porter at 265-3200 or co-chairwoman Amy Shanholtzer at 265-0741.