It rained on several days of the past week, these closing days of May. The sun came out periodically, granting true warmth as well. At least once, the sky appeared set to snow. Through it all, hundreds of people came together united by a single goal: Let’s build a new playground for kids. The Homer Playground Project organizers, spearheaded by Miranda Weiss and Debbie Cox, gave townspeople conviction by piecing together the plan plank-by-plank. It took over a year. In the end the goal was realized.
More than that, a dream came true.
Those of who watched a bare landscape overlooking Kachemak Bay at Karen Hornaday Park couldn’t have been more amazed by the transformation in a mere eight days. Tents were put up for make-shift workshops if certain outdoor tasks became impossible. Posts went into the ground, then took shape with imaginative playhouses and climbing stairs. A curving pipe slide center-pieced terraced levels of playground architecture as paths went in around it. Artfully painted and decoratively trimmed, each piece of equipment shows individual attention stamped out by careful planning.
It took a lot of people and businesses to make it happen. Over the course of the week, day-by-day, progress sparked the scenery to life. A landscape submitted to new architecture at the hands of many willing to saw or hammer or paint. Others chipped in with support work for the 585 building volunteers. It took a couple of hundred or more people to provide tools, food, chairs, tables, clean up, directions, muscles and money.
In the end, most every business in town had a hand in it. Most every segment of the population, even kids and retired folks long out of the child-rearing business, contributed.
Skeptics know the disappointment of the many times people fail to come together. That occurs on epic scales in global conflicts, and on petty platforms in neighborly hostilities. It occurs, in fact, most of the time that meets the public eye. If an interaction rises to the occasion of becoming news, it’s generally infected with tragedy or a sadly comic tone.
Then along comes an event like the building of Karen Hornaday Park’s new playground. Out comes good will into the open where, from morning to evening, witnesses can’t help but notice it. The results of the project couldn’t be denied. A spirit spread through the town. Organizers called it fantastic, amazing, phenomenal. They shed tears over the surprise of seeing this dream come true. Tears of joy and something else: Disbelief.
It’s hard to believe a community, even one like Homer, can pull together a concerted effort involving the need for manpower and equipment in a mere eight days to build a whole new park infrastructure. And yet, there it is. Children couldn’t wait to enjoy their new playground. Once the ribbon was cut Sunday night, they ran gleefully toward it.
In the background, adults watched. They put tools away, picked up a plate, and ate a final meal elbow-to-elbow in the tents. They didn’t seem to notice or care that it was raining off and on. They didn’t probably notice their own fatigue at the end of a long week’s work.
What they noticed was likely a realization that anything massively good like this could happen. Given enough faith shared among people willing to put in the work, dreams can come true.
In a tired age, that can be a life-changing experience.
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