“The fact that you see kids and they’re smiling, that’s why we did this,” said Jack Barkley, a member of the South Dundas Community Playground Committee on Saturday, September 24, as he stood watching the children of South Dundas try out their new community playground.
From preschoolers on the super slide to older children on the pummel wall and swing bars, the new playground was alive with activity. In a single day, volunteers, arriving with tools, shovels, rakes and a lot of good will, started at 8 a.m., built the entire site and made the 2 p.m. deadline to open the new South Dundas Community Playground.
“Our community came together to do a wonderful thing in a single afternoon,” Barkley said. “I just hope the spirit of all this carries forward.”
Matt McCooeye, chair of the Playground committee, led the dedication ceremony.
“On June 8, we stood here, in this place, telling you of the start of this project,” he said. “Three months later, we have a playground. Our goal was to raise $100,000 (which was matched by the not-for-profit group Let Them Be Kids, which also provided expertise and a blue print for construction to the committee) and we raised $117,000 with more still coming in. We hoped to get 175 volunteers out to help today. We got 250.”
“It is incredible to see what we have accomplished,” said committee member, Mike Domanko. “We have built more than a playground here today. We have built a community. We owe many thanks to our volunteers, our neighbours and our friends.”
A very special moment in the ceremony came when the Playground was officially dedicated the SD&G Highlanders, past, present and future.
Led by the Glens’ Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Brooks (ret.HLCol), and Bill Shearing, former members of the Glens and other area veterans made their way to the front. Among them, were World War II veterans Harry Towes and Ervin Clements.
The Glens procession was greeted with applause and cheers from the large crowd that only grew louder and louder as the soldiers passed.
“I cannot tell you what a fantastic tribute to this community and to our regiment this dedication is,” said Lt.-Col. Brooks in his address. “I am absolutely struck by the work and the co-operation that has gone into this playground and deeply honoured that you have seen fit to dedicate it to the Glens. And I also have the great pleasure of telling you all that the last nine members of our regiment, still serving in Afghanistan, have now made it home and are safe.”
The flag for the new playground was raised by Emma Morrow, Keltey McCooeye, Xandra Furo and Kai Morrow.
In a very appropriate alternate to the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony, the children of South Dundas opened their own playground by running through ribbons made of dozens of coloured hands, symbolic of their participation in the project.
Then the children re-dedicated the playground in their own special way. They played.