It’s official: we built a playground!

For the past two years I have dedicated my spare time to helping a group of local moms plan, fundraise for and — finally — build a new playground and naturalization area at the local elementary school. Five out of six of us have children attending the school and we found ourselves in a “You need to do this or the children won’t have a playground,” situation. Yes, we were all somewhat guilted into volunteering for what turned into A BEAST.

Before:

This was taken three weeks ago, when a crane was off-loading the equipment.

This was taken three weeks ago, when a crane was off-loading the new equipment.

After:

Our kids' new play park, complete with picnic tables, play equipment and a naturalization area intended to foster creative play.

Our kids’ new play park, complete with picnic tables, play equipment and a naturalization area intended to foster creative play.

We could have just taken the easy way out and ordered ugly Blue Imp equipment from the blinged-out dude who showed up at the school with a brochure one day back in 2011.  We could have just pointed to page 49 and said, “Yes, we’ll take the cheap-looking apparatus with the super lame short slides,” and then put everything in the same place as the old playground. But no. We had dreams of something grander; a vision that could only be realized slowly, over long periods of time at many meetings during which gin and tonics were liberally consumed — a never-before-been-assembled-colossal-play-structure-from-Germany kind of dream, along with a forest of trees and a ginormous donor pathway.

Before:

A volunteer toils away on a donor pathway, which turns out to be much harder to execute than originally thought.

A volunteer toils away on the donor pathway, which turns out to be much harder to execute than originally thought.

After:

Many thanks to the community and corporate donors who made the playground (and pathway!) possible.

Many thanks to the community and corporate donors who made the playground (and pathway!) possible.

Our brick:

I also love that we have a donor brick in the pathway! A very cool (and affordable) way for families to get involved and take ownership of the new park.

I also love that we have a donor brick! A very cool (and affordable) way for families to get involved and take ownership of the new park.

I was going to blog about our struggles trying to get ‘er done on time and on budget, with our sanity miraculously intact. But now, in hindsight, what’s the point? Does the world really need to know about the crazy porta-potty lady? Or the 11th-hour “crowsnest” fix? No.

Though it caused us many headaches (and much pillow-screaming), in the end it paid off to dream big. We have a spectacular new playground that is a huge improvement over the dumpy old equipment. What’s more, we have trees, a stone amphitheatre, picnic tables, benches and a beautiful donor pathway. Did I mention the warm-fuzzy feeling I got when I watched my kids play on the new equipment at the grand opening party this past weekend?

Happy kids:

Bennett leads the troop across the rope bridge at the new playground.

Bennett leads the troops across the rope bridge at the new playground.

Avery takes a rest on the rope bridge.

Avery takes a rest on the rope bridge.

It was also so nice and affirming to hear the words of thanks and congratulations spoken by many community members and school parents on opening day. Mayor Nenshi even came by to officially open the playground, talk about the importance of play and lead the kids in reciting a playground pledge.

Mayor Nenshi has the children pledge they'll have fun -- and keep the playground free of litter and weeds!

Mayor Nenshi has the children pledge they’ll have fun — and keep the playground free of litter and weeds!

I know I complained about the project when we were in the trenches, but it feels great to see a project like this come to fruition. As Nenshi said, we’re starting the second century of playgrounds in Calgary with this brand new play park at Colonel Walker School!

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