The castle has been built. Now it needs a kingdom.
In September, a restored Kids Castle reopened after a massive community effort to save the structure. Now, volunteers are ready to take the popular playground to the next level—and turn it into a kingdom.
Phase two of the effort to save Kids Castle includes four kingdoms, or play areas, explained Joe Salvati, Vice Chairman of the Friends of Kids Castle. The effort has been called “Build the Kingdom at Kids Castle.”
This phase will enhance the area around the gigantic play castle and make it inclusive for all children, including those who use a mobility device such as a wheelchair or walker.
When the Kids Castle was restored last year, the equipment surrounding the castle was removed because it had aged and was unsafe, Salvati explained.
The Build the Kingdom at Kids Castle effort will feature installation of new play equipment, including a pirate ship and tot play area for children as young as two.
The major focus of this phase is to make the playground an inclusive place where all kids can play together, Salvati said. One portion of the kingdom will have a large play structure where children in wheelchairs can elevate through a paneling system and play with the others in an inclusive environment.
Other features include a giant Simon-like electronic game, a 20-foot monorail, a spin cup, new swings, a rock climbing wall with a zigzag slide and a play web made from ropes.
The various elements were selected over the course of a year of discussions with professionals and feedback from local families, Salvati explained.
“We had a special design committee who went out into the community and into the schools,” he said. The phase two plans are a collection of that feedback as well as input with play equipment industry representatives.
"We went back and forth until we came up with something that gave the most people the most opportunity to play and have fun at the castle,” he said.
The effort won’t come cheap, though. The fundraising goal is $600,000, of which $150,000 has been raised, according to Salvati. A large portion of the budget will go to install a state-of-the art “poured in place” surface that is required to make the playground accessible to all.
However, Salvati said work on some elements, including the pirate ship, may begin as early as this summer.
The Friends of Kids Castle is handling fundraising a bit different than in the past. Due to the high estimated cost of the work, the group is looking to secure larger donations from business sponsors, he explained.
Businesses who support the effort will be visibly recognized at an easily seen location at the Kids Castle, Salvati said.
The group is still looking for volunteers, particularly those with experience in marketing and fundraising.
A third phase is also planned for the castle and includes installation of restroom facilities and a snack stand.
Visit www.savekidscastle.org for details.