Northeast Times

Let’s play!

At long last, May­fair has a spark­ling new play­ground, cour­tesy of lots of people with Gi­ant hearts.

Cred­it for the new May­fair Me­mori­al Play­ground goes to many, but May­fair Civic As­so­ci­ation pres­id­ent Joe De­Fe­lice called Melinda Mul­venna the “driv­ing force.”

Mul­venna was at the play­ground one day in 2008 when her 22-month-old daugh­ter fell after get­ting her foot caught in a hole in the pad­ding on the ground.

The Guil­ford Street res­id­ent didn’t call a law­yer to sue, but did call a lot of oth­er people to im­prove the con­di­tions of the play­ground, loc­ated at Row­land Av­en­ue and Vista Street, on the cam­pus of Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School.

The School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia even­tu­ally ripped out all of the equip­ment, and Friends of May­fair Me­mori­al Play­ground raised money in vari­ous ways — an East­er Egg hunt, a beef-and-beer, a Fallen Her­oes Run — in an ef­fort to re­open the park.

When Gi­ant su­per­mar­ket and Ka­BOOM!, a Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based na­tion­al non-profit group that cre­ates play­grounds, signed up for the cause, it was time to pick a date and re­cruit vo­lun­teers.

That day came last Thursday, Oct. 27. Rain didn’t dampen the en­thu­si­asm of 234 vo­lun­teers from Gi­ant and the com­munity. In fact, the work was com­pleted in a little more than five hours, with state Rep. Kev­in Boyle and City Coun­cil can­did­ate Bobby Hen­on do­ing some of the heavy lift­ing.

When it was time to cut the ex­tra-long rib­bon, it was Mul­venna who was giv­en the gi­ant scis­sors and her now-5-year-old daugh­ter, Kaylee, who helped out with a smal­ler pair.

“This is amaz­ing,” Mul­venna said. “I’m speech­less.”

Mul­venna’s motto throughout the last three-plus years was, “A prom­ise kept.” Now that the play­ground is open, she looks for­ward to hav­ing Kaylee and her 8-year-old son, An­drew, get some healthy ex­er­cise.

“We’ll walk the wag­on down. It’ll be something to do after school,” she said.

May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter and Gi­ant pres­id­ent Rick Her­ring made ap­pear­ances at an early-morn­ing ce­re­mony, where De­Fe­lice thanked every­one who made the day pos­sible — neigh­bors and busi­nesses, uni­ons, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, com­munity groups and oth­ers.

The pro­ject was bound to be a suc­cess, based on the his­tory of Ka­BOOM! Since its found­ing 15 years ago, the or­gan­iz­a­tion has led the build­ing of more than 2,000 play­grounds across North Amer­ica.

Vo­lun­teers not only used their skills to build the play­ground, they donated more than 500 pounds of canned goods and non-per­ish­able food to two hun­ger re­lief or­gan­iz­a­tions, Phil­abund­ance and the Holmes­burg United Meth­od­ist Church King’s Kit­chen.

For hungry vo­lun­teers, Gi­ant provided enough food and drinks for an army. A disc jockey played mu­sic all day.

The play­ground con­sists of about 10,000 square feet, and vo­lun­teers busied them­selves with rakes, buck­ets, wheel­bar­rows, shovels and push brooms.

All of the equip­ment is col­or­ful.

The space in­cludes swings, climbers, slid­ing boards, tab­letop chess and check­er boards and a fire en­gine in memory of fire­fight­er John Red­mond, a May­fair res­id­ent who died in the line of duty in 1994.

The play­ground is han­di­capped ac­cess­ible, with a ramp and a spe­cially de­signed swing.

There are plant­er boxes, an ar­bor, fo­liage, plenty of mulch, a flag­pole, a bul­let­in board and a new sign, fen­cing, pav­ing, benches and trash cans.

“I was com­pletely over­whelmed watch­ing all the work,” said Mia Hy­man, a moth­er of two from Magee Av­en­ue. “A lot of people will see the res­ults of all of our work.”

De­Fe­lice said neigh­bors can take pride forever in know­ing that they dug the holes, shoveled the mulch, screwed the bolts and laid the con­crete to make the play­ground a real­ity.

“The school dis­trict could have come out and fixed this in 2008, and we would have had a nice play­ground for three years,” the civic lead­er said. “But this is not just re­build­ing a play­ground, it’s re­build­ing a neigh­bor­hood.”

Dan Collins, of Oak­mont Street, takes his 3-year-old daugh­ter, Ry­an, to oth­er loc­al play­grounds, but he’s happy that a closer play­ground is avail­able.

“My daugh­ter said the oth­er day, ‘Daddy, we fi­nally have a play­ground we can walk to,’ ” said Collins, whose wife will give birth to their second child in a couple of weeks.

The pro­ject is not com­pleted. The Friends group will con­tin­ue to raise money. There is some space for more equip­ment. Also be­ing ad­ded will be hopscotch and tic tac toe, and there will be an area for chalk­ing.

Neigh­bors are hop­ing for some nice au­tumn weath­er to en­joy the new play­ground.

“It’s fi­nally here. We’ll be rid­ing our bikes here, prob­ably every day,” said Row­land Av­en­ue res­id­ent Dana Lam­bie, a moth­er of two.

More than 120 Gi­ant em­ploy­ees donned bright green shirts to help neigh­bors.

“We’re al­ways do­ing out­reach,” said Christina McAdams, as­sist­ant man­ager of the new store on Grant Av­en­ue. “Any­thing to help in the com­munity.”

Jenn Lesh­now­er, the pro­ject man­ager from Ka­BOOM!, said the ef­fort could not have been com­pleted without the vo­lun­teer ef­forts of res­id­ents and Gi­ant em­ploy­ees.

“This is ex­actly our goal, to have the com­munity come to­geth­er to save play,” she said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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