As of Tuesday, September 25, 2018
It was like opening a dam.
Ribbon cut, the kids flowed into the Hood River Children’s Park on Saturday morning with the dedication of the long-awaited play structure.
Within minutes, every ramp, swing, slide and play feature was crammed with kids.
There with his daughter, Niva, 4, was Dave Bruggeman of Hood River, who was on hand throughout the week-long community build in June.
“This is a moment of great joy, a great time — a dream come true,” Bruggeman said.
“To do more things like this, it would be good,” Bruggeman said.
During the pre-ribbon ceremony with Chamber of Commerce representatives, a show of hands indicated dozens of people who had either donated to the park or worked on the community build in early June, after the dilapidated 25-year-old predecessor was demolished by the city due to safety concerns.
“Welcome back to Children’s Park,” said Blackburn. “This was an incredible, collaborative, all-hands-on-deck effort.”
“It’s amazing and a little surreal,” said Council Member Megan Saunders, who was liaison from the city on the project. “I feel like it’s been so long since we’ve had kids here. To see it full of children and families and the community is why we’re doing this, and it’s incredible to see. An exciting day.”
Funding for the project came in thirds from City of Hood River, Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District and “all of us who chipped in a donation,” Blackburn said in his brief address. “Good job us, and thank you.”
“I heard someone say, ‘This new park makes me excited for my grandkids.’
“As with any effort, there needs to be good strong leadership at the top,” Blackburn noted, acknowledging the steering committee for directing the project. City Council and staff, Parks District, and citizens all served on the committee. Blackburn also thanked Hood River Rotary for facilitating park donations through its foundation.
Most of the play structure was completed in July but delivery of slides and other key pieces did not happen until late August, causing the entire park to remain fenced off and closed for safety reasons.
Also honored Saturday was the new kid-created mural, overseen by Hood River artist MacRae Wylde and placed on the north side of the restroom building. It’s a reproduction of the former park play structure, using the 1992 donation boards. More boards line the remaining walls of the structure, preserving the names of people, organizations and businesses that donated 26 years ago.
In early June, MacRae assisted dozens of youths in painting the engraved names and placing the boards at angles to depict the former play structure.
“All were preserved for the next generation to enjoy,” said Blackburn.
The event also featured the dedication of the third multi-lingual Rotary Peace Pole, with Brazilian exchange student Laura Gontijo unveiling it.
“I am honored that they invited me. I am so glad, it’s an honor to me to untie the ribbon,” Gontijo said. “It has my native language on it.”
Other poles are located at Brick Stratton Park and Nichols Basin trail on the Hood River waterfront.