Falcon Heights readies for KaBOOM! playground build

This rendering, option “B” of three designs presented to community playground designers, was the chosen design. Scores of volunteers are expected to help install the equipment on Wednesday, June 3. (courtesy of KaBOOM!)
This rendering, option “B” of three designs presented to community playground designers, was the chosen design. Scores of volunteers are expected to help install the equipment on Wednesday, June 3. (courtesy of KaBOOM!)

It sounds like a magic trick: in about a week, 200 people will show up at an empty lot, and six hours later, a brand new playground will appear.

But it’s not an illusion: that new playground will be the result of months of planning and organizing by community leaders, and for 200 volunteers, several sweaty hours’ worth of heavy lifting, digging and assembling.

Falcon Heights is the lucky—and deserving—recipient of a grant through the University of Minnesota’s Good Neighbor Fund, which is described as “a resource for neighborhood communities that are adjacent to the Twin Cities Campus.” The Toro Company and the Minnesota Vikings football team have sponsored one new playground build with KaBOOM! through this fund each year for the past decade, and this year Curtiss Field, located off Snelling Avenue just south of Larpenteur, was chosen as the designated build site.

The former playground at Curtiss Field was nearing the end of its 15-year lifespan. The existing equipment was removed in April in anticipation of the new build on June 3.

The city of Falcon Heights has agreed to raise $8,500 as a contribution to the project as the community partner, and has helped KaBOOM! organize community engagement opportunities throughout the process.

Adults, kids plan playground

At the beginning of April, Falcon Heights residents—and their kids—had opportunities to provide input as to what they wanted the new playground to look like.

The project kicked off with an after-school brainstorming session with students at Falcon Heights Elementary, where the kids drew their “dream playground” and described how they like to play, with whom and what playground features they like best.

Then, later in the evening, Falcon Heights community members sat down with a representative from KaBOOM! and looked through a catalog of options for playground equipment, compiling a list of “must haves,” which KaBOOM!’s playground designers worked from as they drew up potential plans.

The designers sent back three possible designs a few days after the meeting, and those on the planning committee sent back their top choice.

The planning committee picked the second option, which features a small climbing wall, slide, monkey bars, a teeter-totter and swings, among many other pieces.

June 3 build day

Although the bulk of the installation will take place on the June 3 build day, a good amount of prep work is necessary on Monday, June 1, in order for work to go smoothly during the build. That day, volunteer team leaders will spend a full eight hours being trained, organizing equipment and learning the ropes. A second prep day is scheduled for Tuesday, June 2, but only as a contingency date if needed.

Then, the morning of June 3, more than 200 volunteers are expected to show up to help build the playground. Team leaders will arrive at 6:30 a.m. in anticipation of the rest of the volunteers arriving for registration at 7:45 a.m.

Lunch will be taken in shifts, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled at 2:30 p.m.

Several local organizations—including the city, U of M, and Suburban Ace Hardware—are donating or loaning tools for volunteers to use during the build, and volunteers are tracking down food donations for lunch.

Organizers are still recruiting volunteers for the build. Those working on the playground footprint must be 18 or older, but younger volunteers are needed in other areas.

Volunteers under 18 years old must register in person on June 3 and have their waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian.

For more information about volunteering or to sign up, visit http://bit.ly/kaboomfh.

For more information about KaBOOM!, visit www.kaboom.org.

—Johanna Holub

If you go...

KaBOOM! playground build
Curtiss Field, 1551 W. Iowa Ave. in Falcon Heights
7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.—ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:30 p.m.
To sign up to volunteer, visit http://bit.ly/kaboomfh.

Other local builds

Can’t make it to Curtiss Field June 3 but still want to help build a community playground?
The Roseville Parks and Recreation Department is hosting two playground builds in the next month, and is looking for volunteers.
• Oasis Park, 1700 County Road C2: Saturday, May 30, anytime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
• Bruce Russell Park, 1175 Roselawn Ave.: Saturday, June 27, anytime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Volunteers of all ages are welcome.
Contact Roseville volunteer coordinator Kelly O’Brien at kelly.obrien@cityofroseville.com or 651-792-7028 to help. If you have construction/power tools or wheelbarrows, let Kelly know.

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