What an amazing, awe inspiring, life enhancing experience this was!! Thousands of people from all over the country volunteered to help build and to help feed the builders from April 7th through April 15th of 2005. For a slideshow of the main event CLICK HERE. Workers arrived at a reception area where they signed in and indicated their level of experience with power tools. They were organized and escorted to construction captains who were in charge of various aspects of the project. The construction captains had to commit to at least 3 solid days (12 hours each day!!) There were several captains who were there throughout the entire build!! Hats off to them!! They were the ones who made the blueprints a reality... Having workers cut specific pieces, overseeing the building of actual structures, and essentially delegating the various duties onsite.
Many people loaned their personal tools to the project, with a promisary note that if they were damaged they would be replaced. Some tools were purchaced with the budget. They were kept onsite in two locked trailers where volunteers kept track of each and every one as they were signed out for use. The volunteers were fed three square meals a day. Many thanks to the Feed the Builders Committee, and to all the fine folks who donated and served the food!! What wonderful feasts we had!! The meals were also an opportunity for the volunteers to get to know eachother a bit. There were large, white tents that were rented and erected around the dining area, and around the area with the stationary tools, which provided much appreciated shade. During each meal Debra Evans would welcome all the volunteers and remind everyone that, even though the playground was being built it was not yet paid for. She would hold up a fence picket and suggest that people commemorate their efforts by having something permanently imprinted on one. Debra Evans was really the driving force behind the whole operation. She earned the nickname "Queen Debra", and rightly so. There were many others who were steadfastly involved, and my respect and gratitude go out to them all... and to all the wonderful worker bees : everyone who participated!! Thank you all!!!
THE GRAND OPENING EVENT:
On Monday, July 25th, Our Community-Built Playground at Stadium Place had it's official grand opening celebration. It was held in the gymnasium of the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg YMCA nextdoor. Many participants and contributors came to relive the build through recollections, a slideshow and many many thanks.
A local youth jazz ensemble opened the evening, and the same folks that organized feeding the builders served sheet cake and refreshments to close.
There was a surprise visit up at the reception by the owner of the Senator Theater. He showed up to pass out cartons of popcorn to the children!! How awesome!!
Stadium School, which serves children from grades 4-8, met with Leathers' playground architect. The children's ideas and drawings were the basis of the playground he designed. At lunchtime, he drew the design in the cafeteria at Waverly Elementary School and answered questions from the students. That evening, 300 people (about 200 children) attended a meeting at Montebello Elementary School. In addition to the architect's presentation, a jazz band, choir and step team from the schools entertained all.
Click here to see pictures from the event!
Children from Waverly Elementary had the idea to put an erupting volcano on the sign that was erected on the playground site. The original "lava" was a red liquid that would increase in volume until we reached our financial goal. Unfortunately, the sign was tipped over when it was moved one day, and the red liquid spilled out, and has been replaced with tape to indicate approximately where we stand. There were actually two unveiling ceremonies. Both got PR, but unfortunately I don't have links to the articles yet. To see a recent picture of the sign CLICK HERE.
The Ceremonial "Ground Breaking" event was very exciting!
It was held on Thursday, March 17th 2005. There was a wonderful volcano cake that was donated by Charm City Cakes. There was even a volcano sculpture that 3rd grader, Hassahnii Garrett (from Waverly Elementary) gave an impressive speech from. Council woman Mary Pat Clarke said her piece from the volcano as well! People were wearing hard-hats in the spirit of the event. There were banners flying and some press, including Natasha Lesser who interviewed many involved for a spot on 88.1 WYPR. Many of the Playground Partners came to share their support for Our Playground at Stadium Place and for the community. Here is the list of speakers in order of their appearance:
You can click on their names to see their photo!
Debra Evans invited anyone interested to pick up one of the many shovels (borrowed from the City) to help turn over the soil. There were cheers and closing remarks made by Debra Evans.
(Soon there will be links to pictures from this event!) In the summer of 2003, community folks came by the numbers to watch Shrek. In the parking lot next to the JHU at Eastern building (that used to be Eastern High School) over 250 people came with chairs, blankets, sleeping bags. There was even an air mattress in the crowd. It included popcorn (donated by the Senator Movie Theater), sodas, and admissions cost of only a quarter. Watching a movie under the stars was like the old days for the adults and something new and fun for the children. We had so much fun, that we did it again a month later, even more folks came, this time, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was the pick of the night. We raised over $150! This was made possible thanks to a grant made by the Community Foundation. In the summer of 2004 we showed Home on the Range, which was also a huge success! (back to top) On May 16th, 2003 we had our first Spaghetti Dinner. What an evening it was! The rain stopped just in time to bring out over The spaghetti dinner was such a hit we did it again the following year on Friday, March 12th. Much thanks to all who were involved! (back to top)
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Click here to see pictures from these movie nights.
150 hungry supporters. New Waverly United Methodist Church graciously donated their dining hall for our dinner. The tables were decorated with red and white cloths and white vases with beautiful flowers as centerpieces. Now, let me tell you about the entertainment for the evening. The Waverly Rockers started us off with some really together steps. They are a group of 4th & 5th grade girls that entertained us with their choreography steps. Then the drums started, and all eyes were on the stage. For the next thirty minutes or so, we were treated to some awesome African drumming and dancing by Zaipo Oula and his dance troupe. He invited the children to dance with him on stage, and the little ones either climbed or were lifted on stage to dance, and did they dance. The entertainment was so great, some of our supporters shared that they came to have dinner and spend about an hour, but was having such a wonderful time, they stayed the entire evening. More entertainment followed, the Barclay Chorus, with such beautiful voices serenade us with a melody of songs led by their director, Mr. Derrick Thompson. Oh, it doesn't stop there, Christopher Seawall, an eight grader at Barclay, entertained us with a Michael Jackson impersonation. So, you see no matter what time folks came for dinner, they were truly entertained. Special thanks to Ashley and her teacher, Ms. Sandy from the Stadium School who volunteered to serve the dinners, and they served and served for 2 1/2 hours straight. Now, I think you would agree that this was the best deal in town last Friday evening. For only $5.00 you got all of this, a great meal, spaghetti marinara with meat or without, Italian Bread w/olive oil and butter, tossed salad w/ Italian dressing, delicious desserts, cold drinks and great entertainment. Because of the donations from our generous business partners, (Vallentinos, Big Sky breads, H&S Bakery, MS. Dessert, American Friends Services and New Waverly United Methodist Church) all proceeds for the evening 100% goes toward building the playground. And special thanks to the many volunteers that helped in any way.
(Soon there will be links to pictures from this event!)
In the summer of 2003, community folks came by the numbers to watch Shrek. In the parking lot next to the JHU at Eastern building (that used to be Eastern High School) over 250 people came with chairs, blankets, sleeping bags. There was even an air mattress in the crowd. It included popcorn (donated by the Senator Movie Theater), sodas, and admissions cost of only a quarter. Watching a movie under the stars was like the old days for the adults and something new and fun for the children. We had so much fun, that we did it again a month later, even more folks came, this time, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was the pick of the night. We raised over $150! This was made possible thanks to a grant made by the Community Foundation.
In the summer of 2004 we showed Home on the Range, which was also a huge success! (back to top)
On May 16th, 2003 we had our first Spaghetti Dinner. What an evening it was! The rain stopped just in time to bring out over
The spaghetti dinner was such a hit we did it again the following year on Friday, March 12th. Much thanks to all who were involved! (back to top)