Project Playground plans party

Harvest Festival held tonight to raise funds for play equipment at Twin Lakes

Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2006

Local volunteers are closing in on a fundraising milestone to turn a dream playground into reality.

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Project Playground has raised approximately three-quarters of its $475,000 goal to build a nearly 29,000-square-foot customized destination playground at Twin Lakes. The playground was designed by local schoolchildren and is planned to include an ice castle, a glacier climbing wall, a tree house and mazes.

The Project Playground Harvest Festival will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall to help raise a portion of the nearly $160,000 still needed.

The family event includes a haunted walk, a fishing game, face painting, fortune-telling, and a variety of games and contests, events coordinator Melanie Coleman said.

"It's going to be lots of fun," fundraising co-coordinator Catherine Pusich said. "When you come in to pay, they're going to give the kids 10 gaming tickets to go in and play."

The playground is scheduled for construction during the last week of April and the first week of May 2007 by an all-volunteer construction team. At tonight's festival, Project Playground organizers are hoping to enlist more volunteers to help with the construction, Pusich said.

"It's going to take hundreds of volunteers to build this in the spring," she said.

Know and go

What: Project Playground Harvest Festival.

When: 5 to 8 p.m. tonight.

Where: Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.

Cost: $10 for individuals; $30 for families.

Details: 789-9424.

The Juneau Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee has approved the project, and the city has pledged $175,000 toward the playground. The Alaska Legislature awarded the project $75,000 earlier this year. Numerous businesses and individuals also have given money, Pusich said.

"This community has been amazingly generous with this project," she said. "Everywhere we have gone, people have really stepped up to the plate. I've just been amazed."

The community also is in great need of a quality park to attract children and families, Coleman said. As the parent of a 4-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, she said the small playground at Twin Lakes doesn't meet the community's needs.

"Personally, as a parent, I just don't think there is enough for kids to do in town," Pusich said. "This playground is unique in that fact that there is so much in it. Kids will be able to play for hours."

Leathers Associates, an Ithaca, N.Y.,-based company, has helped in the design project and will assist in facilitating construction this spring. The company helps communities across the country build destination playgrounds, including one in Haines.

The playground in Haines is a great example of what Juneau needs, Coleman said.

"It's just a fun place for families to get together," she said. "All the parents see each other when they go to the park and all the kids play together."

The future playground will capture the imaginations of children across the community, Pusich said.

"It's just going to take a child forever to get tired of it."

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