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The Playground
Playground Improvement Effort Honors Local Boy

During the last four days of May, more than 100 community volunteers moved 35 tons of sand, poured 6,160 pounds of concrete, raked 50 cubic yards of mulch, and cut 200 pieces of lumber to construct new play equipment for young children at the recreation center in memory of playground enthusiast, Lyles Parachini, who died of leukemia in March 2007. “The upgrade,” says Lyles’ mother, Hadley Boyd, “provides current and future generations with a setting for imaginative and collaborative play as well as for a place to family, friends, and neighbors to remember Lyles.”

The new equipment installed by the volunteers includes bongo drums and a marimba, a child-size cafe with bar stools, an enlarged sandbox, sand sifter, and cave made of tires and lumber. There are also new climbing rocks, three trees, benches, a community bulletin board, and memorial plaque to Lyles.

While their parents worked on the upgrade, well-organized volunteers provided childcare to 34 children, ages six months to 12 years, on the basketball court and later in the recreation center itself. There was a moon bounce, tables for art projects, and a quiet corner for reading. Some children wrote letters to Lyles and “mailed” them in a special box, which will be buried on the site.

When Mayor Fenty stopped by with his two sons, all work was halted and the children filed onto the hillside to watch a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Mayor and Doug Shulman, a neighbor whose children were friends of Lyles’, spoke briefly and then Lyles’ sister, Julia, cut a paper-chain ribbon to celebrate the opening of the new play area. The children had to wait a few more hours, though, while their parents and others continued to work, before they could test out the new equipment, which they did with gusto late in the afternoon.

Work was interrupted several times on Saturday by heavy rain, thunder and lightening. Volunteers were not to be deterred, however. As soon as the thunder and lightening stopped, they were back on the site to continue deciphering instructions, cutting lumber, hammering nails, sanding boards, assembling musical instruments, and hauling sand. When they ran out of lumber, sand and mulch, so they collected their tools and children and headed home—wet, tired and—so many reported—pleased with their efforts.

Marianne Fay, a team captain for the upgrade and the mother of a member of Lyles’ play group, went back to the playground at dusk after putting her children to bed. “Lyles’ rock,” she said, “looked like it had been there forever. It really belongs there—the perfect spot. And it was just wonderful to have a place to sit down and quietly think about Lyles.”

In addition to family, friends, and neighbors, Friends of Guy Mason and the staff of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation worked hard with Lyles’ parents—Hadley Boyd and John Parachini, residents of Massachusetts Heights—to make the new play area a reality. Their partner was Learning Structures, a New Hampshire-based company that specializes in custom playground design.

Landis Construction Corporation, a local design and renovation firm, procured the lumber and donated the skills of four carpenters for four days to the project. Whole Foods in Glover Park provided lunch for the volunteers and their children on Saturday, and Savoy Suite Hotel provided rooms—with views of Washington’s monuments—for two Learning Structures staff members for five nights. Rolling Acres Landscaping/Nursery, of Brinklow, MD, planted three good-size trees on the site and lent their expertise to the project.

You can support this project either with an Donate online >> (make sure to answer "Yes" on the Lyles box on the donation page) or by writing a check to Friends of Guy Mason and sending it to:

Margaret Markham, Treasurer
2733 36th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007

Links:
View Slide Show of Community Build Event
Order Slide Show Photos at Shutterfly.com
Online Donation Form
About Lyles Parachini
Memorial Tribute: Lyles Remembrance

For more information, please e-mail project coordinator Hadley Boyd at: hboyd@strength.org.
© Friends of Guy Mason 2008 - 10. All Rights Reserved.