About 50 adults worked hard Saturday in Fifth Ward so young kids in the neighborhood can play just as hard.
The volunteers - mostly connected to the Booker T. Washington Community Revitalization Committee and the Central Blair Recreation & Parks Commission - assembled a $95,000 set of fitness-oriented play equipment on the 1300 block of 19th Street, across the avenue from a community basketball court the committee previously fixed up.
It's the second piece of a triangular offensive designed to rejuvenate the neighborhood, with the third piece - a passive park across 19th Street from the court - slated to be done, like the playground, in about a month.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
(From left)?John Arkward of Harrisburg, Jim Madden, Monte Pattillo, Don Witherspoon and Randy Feathers, all of Altoona, were among 60 volunteers who began work Saturday morning on a new children’s playground across from Booker T. Washington basketball courts.
"We're just trying to give back," said Jim Madden of Fifth Ward, who was helping put together what looked like a teepee-style climber with chains. "[So] the kids have something to do to keep them out of trouble."
It would be easy to do nothing, said Kathy Plunkett of Hollidaysburg, a member of last year's Leadership Blair County class, which has worked on the passive park.
But taking the difficult step of building the Booker T. complex will make it easier to do similar projects in other needy neighborhoods, she said.
"People will see how this turned out," Plunkett said. "People will say, 'This really happened.'"
It pleased city Planning Director Lee Slusser, who was helping assemble a railing on a deck, to see how the committee and commission coordinated the volunteers and the project overall "to get the best bang for the buck."
The project made Fifth Ward neighbor Siles Jones feel good: "To see people of all races pitching in to help," he said. "There's nothing more beautiful than Americans helping Americans."
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.