Bright and early at 6:30 a.m., Bill Lide woke up to a torrential downpour and a nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach. Build day had finally arrived, but now Bill was wondering if volunteers would still show up to help construct a community playground that was eight years in the making. But Bill knew that rain or shine, this show must go on!
Luckily, he had no reason to be concerned about attendance. Over 200 volunteers arrived ready to help, despite some serious rain. In fact, the shaky weather conditions quickly bonded the team as they prepared for the day ahead.
“We all ate breakfast together in the rain, which luckily stopped right before we started building,” Bill recalls. “When the sun did eventually come out, it was a beautiful day and we all dried off. We didn’t lose any volunteers to the weather, which shows amazing commitment.”
Bill is a volunteer coordinator for ‘Friends of Kittredge Park’, a core group of approximately 10 dedicated volunteers who are committed to supporting and promoting the beauty and recreational opportunities of the park.
“It’s a gorgeous natural park along the woods in the middle of Atlanta,” Bill says with pride. “One half of the park is surrounded by a community filled with young children, so getting a playground was really important to them.”
With no prior experience building a park, and a shortage of funding, Friends of Kittredge Park did some research and eventually filled out an application with KaBOOM! “None of us had ever designed or worked on anything related to building a playground,” said Bill. “Luckily, KaBOOM! liked our site and was impressed by the community’s enthusiasm and involvement. Once Foresters joined on to fund the playground all of the pieces came together.”
Even though Bill admits that the prospect of bringing a playground to the park was daunting at first, he describes the collaboration between the three parties as a supportive ‘dream team’, with each group bringing different expertise to the table.
“I wish that Foresters and KaBOOM! were also in charge of the park’s bridge development,” Bill jokes. “Planning the playground build was such a straightforward and smooth process in comparison.”
All the hard work was well worth it. The newly finished playground has all the bells and whistles including a spiral slide, monkey bars, a climbing wall, and some unique pieces like a curvy climber. There’s also an accessible path so that children in wheelchairs can join in on the fun – a feature Bill tells me was a lot of hard work, but very worthwhile.
Now that the playground is complete, park usage has gone way up. Every time Bill goes by, he sees families out playing. The surrounding communities have really embraced the playground and have taken great ownership over it by keeping it clean and making sure it’s well taken care of. It has become a true hub for the community.