Seaside playground swings together

They came, and they built it.

Actually, more than 110 volunteers came to Broadway Park Saturday and built four playgrounds for kids ages 2 through 12.

They grappled with diagrams, sorted out nuts, bolts and washers; pieced together parts with names like “gizmo panel” and “bubble panel”; searched for missing equipment; and worked in teams to construct wave slides, tunnels and swing sets.

“I was up at 6:30 this morning,” said Brian Mihalek, of Seaside. “I couldn’t wait to get here.”

“This town has really been good to my kids, and I want to give something back,” added Mihalek, who has two children.

With perfect weather and lots of perseverance, the playgrounds gradually came together.

“The turnout and support are exciting,” said Mayor Don Larson. “But the instructions are horrendous, the parts lists are unbelievable.”

Despite some frustration, however, every group worked diligently until the equipment was put together. They were divided into red, blue, green and yellow teams, depending on the playground they worked on.

Joyce Jensen and Mindy Cosart from Clatsop Community Bank struggled to apply screws to a crawl tube.

“I’ve done lots of volunteer work,” Cosart said.

“Nothing like this,” Jensen added.

Cosart wanted to help out because she has grandchildren who will play on the equipment she helped to build.

“I don’t,” said Jensen. “I’ll play on it.”

Total strangers worked side by side from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on one goal: to provide a little fun for kids. Ryley and Wyatt Gallinger, from Forest Grove, who were visiting their dad, turned out to work on slides and jungle gyms along with Seaside residents they had never met. Students from the Tongue Point Job Corps and Seaside city officials teamed up to erect a large swing set.

Like many of the volunteers who were also parents, Chris Quackenbush, of Seaside, wanted to help out because his 3-year-old son often visits Broadway Park.

“I wanted something for him to play on,” said Quackenbush. “What a great day for it, too. It’s a blast!”

Meanwhile, Seaside Police Chief Bob Gross, Seaside School District Superintendent Doug Dougherty and City Councilor Tim Tolan spent time putting a two-person slide into place in the 2- to-5-year-old playground. The playground was sponsored by the Seaside Rotary Club, which raised $27,000 toward it.

Other funding for the $100,0000 in playground equipment came from a $50,000 Oregon Youth Legacy Grant; the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District, which contributed $10,000; the Seaside Kiwanis Club; and other small grants and price breaks from the equipment’s manufacturer.

The playground was designed by SiteLines Park and Playground Products in Portland. Members of the Oregon Recreation and Park Association’s construction and maintenance crews, who have experience working with the complicated instructions, assisted the volunteers.

Few problems occurred, said Seaside public works Director Neal Wallace, who organized the event.

“The only real problem we had today was with the big swing set,” he said, noting that volunteers had problems attaching the parts when the frame was standing up, so they had to rest it on the ground to work on it.

When it came time to heave the heavy structure it into place, many helped lift it.

“We have lots of brawn here today,” Wallace said.

Some pieces went together easier than others, however. Once in awhile volunteers realized they had missed a nut or a bolt, or that a critical part was missing.

“You don’t have to be a mechanical engineer or a trades person to do this,” said Ken Kutska, a member of the construction and maintenance crew and an instructor for the National Playground Safety Institute.

“It’s like putting toys together for your kids at Christmas. You just need to read the directions.”

“But,” he added, “it’s harder than you think. It’s like reading a new language.”

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Source: Daily Astorian