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Carnival kicks off effort to build

playground at Fetterman Park

By Julie R. Cryser

City Editor

(May 25) GRAFTON -- The children designed it; the community will build and fund it.

And it will take a lot of funding, about $50,000 to $60,000, and tons of donated time, lumber and supplies. But those organizing efforts to build the Fetterman Park Community Playground say they'll work their way quarter by quarter to achieve their goal.

They started Sunday with a carnival on the top level of the parking lot above the Grafton fire station. Tickets were four for $1 and children and adults got a chance to dunk a volunteer, hit them with a water basketball or bust balloons with the throw of a dart.

"At first, we were just going to have a few games and a bake sale and it turned into this," said Amy Shanholtzer, a volunteer.

From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., volunteers treated the community to a free magic show, a live band and a whole host of other entertainment. Visitors could also partake in a silent auction, a flea market, quilt auction and a used book sale.

It was all in the name of the park project, which started in the fall and culminated in January with a design meeting. Children from the Grafton area were gathered together by the New York-based architectural design firm of Robert S. Leathers & Associates to come up with a design for the playground.

What they came up with was a quarter-acre design that included a moat sandbox, trolley ride, monkey bars, tree fort and about 25 other play stations. The deal was: the children would design it and the community would build it, much like a barn raising.

The whole concept is to bring the community together to achieve something worthwhile, according to Thea Porter, the general coordinator of the community playground.

Those who volunteered their time Sunday to help raise money said this is a unique project for a small community like Grafton.

"We've lived here 29 years and I think this is one of the best efforts to get recreational facilities for the kids," said Tom Marchese, who was hocking books with his wife, Ann, to help raise money.

"I think you take more pride in it when it's a community effort," Ann Marchese said.

Tom White of Grafton was moved by the community support.

"I lived in a large city and you'd never see anything like this," White said. "It seems like people care more in a small community."

The playground will be an addition to the existing park, which contains a swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, pavilion and arboretum. Community volunteers will gather at the park Sept. 30 through Oct. 4 to build the playground.

Several smaller children said they are waiting to see what comes of this community volunteer effort. Some of the older children at Sunday's function said they want to see it prosper too.

"We go down to Fetterman pool every year," said 13-year-old Tim Mcie of Grafton, "so I think it is a good cause."