It was a perfect early-June afternoon as city officials gathered to formally open the new Frances Anderson Center playground.
In place for several days, the shiny new equipment has already attracted hordes of young fans, who had to be momentarily shooed to the sidelines for the ceremony. But disappointment soon turned to gleeful joy when the youngsters learned they would be invited to help cut the ribbon with the mayor.
They just had to listen to some speeches first.
Carrie Hite, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, welcomed the crowd of 50-some children and parents.
“You’ll probably notice that we’ve made the new play area bigger,” she began. “It now extends about 10 feet further east, which adds more than 700 square feet. One big reason for this was to accommodate the new ADA-compliant merry-go-round and keep a sufficiently large, clear fall zone around it. We also wanted to make sure that the playground footprint would provide plenty of space for the day care facilities that are housed in the Frances Anderson Center. I want to thank the mayor and council for their strong support, and I’m happy to tell you that we’ve come in on time and under budget.”
The $150,000 structure, designed by Sequim-based AllPlay Systems, is the result of a process that started with 13 bids, which were narrowed to five and then presented to the public for voting both online and in person at the Frances Anderson Center. Following more than 1,200 public votes and revisions based on public comments, the new playground design was selected this winter.
In deference to his increasingly restless young audience, Mayor Dave Earling’s speech was short and sweet. “This is a great new facility, really exciting to see,” he said. “Now let’s shut up, get the kids over here, and cut the dang ribbon!”
Mobbed by more than 30 eager youngsters, Earling wielded the ceremonial scissors. At the count of three, he gave a big snip, the ribbon fell, and the delighted children picked up where they’d left off, climbing, laughing and enjoying the newest addition to our city’s park system.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel