MacLeod: Out with the old, in with the new – Fraser sports complex prepares to unveil playground
The year was 1996 and I was eight years old (for those of you doing the math in your head right now, I’ll just make it easy and tell you that I’m 28). A Clinton not named Hillary won the presidential election and the top Billboard song was “The Macarena.” Times were different, and, well, kind of the same too.
But in lesser-known 1996 trivia, it was also the year that the original playground at the Fraser Valley Sports Complex was built.
This may not mean much to many of you, but coming from a kid who was running amuck on playgrounds in ‘96, things have certainly changed. I still have vivid nightmares of plucking splinters from the palms of my hands or screaming in agony as I slid down a metal, sunbaked slide because it burned the backs of my legs where my Ocean Pacific shorts didn’t quite cover.
In short, our local playground was long overdue for an update, and the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District has been working hard to make that a possibility. Through extensive community involvement, fundraising efforts spearheaded by the Fraser Valley Recreation Foundation and numerous grants including $100,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado, a new, state of the art playground is nearing completion. By now, many of you have probably seen the new park as you’ve visited the sports complex or passed by along Highway 40, and if you haven’t, I urge you to check it out next month when it officially opens.
Just last week, Michelle Lawrence – the district’s Programming and Marketing Manager – offered to give me my own personal tour. While I may be just a little too old to thoroughly enjoy the playground myself, the young kid deep down inside of me was still excited to see all the new structures, which are rich in character and local history.
Immediately, my eyes were drawn to the replica Mercantile and Fraser Schoolhouse components. There’s everything from a large stagecoach to a bank and jailhouse, which, coming from someone who wanted to be a combination between Indiana Jones and a cowboy at eight years old, was pretty darn cool.
But aside from just visually representing Fraser’s place in western history, the new playground goes a step further in actually explaining it. Each structure has a placard created by the Grand County Historical Association detailing the respective historical significance. The park proves not only to be a great place for imagination, but also for educational development – all within a safe, ADA compliant facility.
Which means long gone are the days of splinters and second-degree slide burns. With its rubber surfacing and close attention to detail, the new playground will be a safe, fun and incredibly unique space for local and visiting families to enjoy for many years to come.
Tentatively, the playground will open at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 9 with a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony and BBQ. I certainly hope to see all of you out there to help kickoff Summer 2016, and I promise to make sure we have better music than “The Macarena.”
Until next month!
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Rep. Joe Neguse is pushing to improve access and funding for public lands in Colorado and around the country.