Northwest NEWS

November 25, 2002


Fantasy playground takes one more step toward reality

   Photo by Dick Breckenridge
   Designer John Dean has children's rapt attention as they envision the Saint Edward State Park Playground "town."
   by Deborah Stone
   Features Writer
   Two hundred school children from Shoreline, Northshore and Lake Washington school districts recently participated in the long-awaited Design Day for the theme destination Saint Edward State Park Playground, a grassroots community project begun one year ago.
   Joining the children at Northshore's Alternative High School in Bothell, were their parents, teachers and other community members, all eager to see the project move closer to a reality. The students, from Juanita, Carl Sandburg, Thoreau, Kenmore, Morrlands, Woodmoor and Arrowhead elementary schools, spent many months designing the playground of their dreams.
   They were assisted by a cadre of volunteers including Joel Pillers, Park Manager; Ann Panush, Arrowhead Principal; Dr. Francis Hunkins, education spaces specialist; and local artists, Lisa Chandler, Linda Hughes, Carol Griffis, Lisa Freed and Anita Harris.
   At the event, architects led by John Dean of Leathers and Associates, a firm specializing in playground design, listened to the children's ideas, while scanning their drawings and models. The result is an interactive, multi-level, 15,000 square foot wheelchair accessible playground that is every child's dream. Ann Hurst, of the project's steering committee, says, "It's wonderful! It is truly a fantasy playground.
   "There's a space needle to survey the entire grounds, an partially submerged submarine, a maze with wildlife footprints leading to an amphitheatre with a ferry for a stage, a rocket, a special trail where children will follow the inside of a brain, an animal room, a hot-dog slide with mustard, a Mt. Rainier rock climb, a volcano to explore and climb from the inside, a wheel bridge, a guitar and a host of traditional monkey bars and rings.
   "The architecture is breathtaking, especially the way it wraps around the trees and makes use of the natural surroundings."
   The event was full of festivities, food and musical entertainment and drew a number of donations from local businesses, educational institutions and private individuals.
   Thus far, fundraising efforts for the playground have reached 10 percent of the total estimated cost.
   "The party was also a kick-off for fundraising," explains Hurst. "Our steering committee is in high gear promoting end of the year giving." Actual construction of the playground is set for April 21-27 and 1,000 volunteers are needed to help with the project. Each volunteer will be asked to commit to a four hour shift during construction week.
   "We are well on our way to signing up volunteers," adds Hurst. "At the party, we added many volunteers to the process and four captains, which is amazing because captains work from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. all week. It's a tough, but fun, job."
   Other volunteers are heeded to help sign people up to donate funds and pledge time, as well as donations of construction materials, tools and heavy equipment, which will reduce the project cost. F
   or details about the Saint Edward Park Playground or to pledge support go to or call (425) 489-0549.