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Building for funConstruction of the KidsUp! playground draws hundreds of hands with hammer and saws.
"If Battle Point Park has an occupancy limit, it may have been exceeded Tuesday morning.An estimated 400 volunteers wearing work boots and tool belts showed up to begin construction of the KidsUp! playground. Perhaps most surprising for Kim MacPherson and other organizers was the appearance of a contingent of Marines.Even so, MacPherson said, We need people in a big way because we're still at half of what we need. We're just about there financially, organizer Helena Bierly said. Our biggest challenge now is getting people to show up to build.The 10,000-square-foot play structure has been on the drawing board for about a year, with kids and parents helping architects in the design. Construction of the $150,000 playground was approved by the park board last October.Organizers hope to have the playground done in time for opening ceremonies May 20. We're very anxious, Bierly said.Skilled builders are not the only volunteers needed - all skill levels are needed, as is anyone who can serve food and work at the site's day care. Moreover, donated or loaned tools and ladders would help the project. If people can show up, we will put them to work no matter what, MacPherson said.Food has been donated by island restaurants and grocers.We are feeding the people breakfast, lunch and dinner, said Amy Curran, a KidsUp! coordinator, who estimated that 1,000 volunteers will show up during the week.With participants from a variety of island churches and other organizations turning out, coordinators said they hope to create community bonding.Like an old-fashioned barn-raising, it is a place to come and meet your neighbors, Curran said.It is a good place to meet people, agreed Bruce Nowjack, a recent immigrant from Nebraska who showed up to help Tuesday morning, and it will give the kids a great place to play.I've have never seen a better volunteer organization than KidsUp!, said Justin Jelle of the Battle Point Park maintenance team. It is a well-oiled machine.Local construction companies are donating supplies and people for the project. The contractors have been very generous to us, and this is their busiest time of year, volunteer Colleen Scott said. Contractors and vendors are not the only ones receiving praise for their generosity. The play structure will also feature several works crafted by Bainbridge artists.It's not about the playground that is made, but the process, artist Mary Robins said.Curran said she hopes Gov. Gary Locke will appear at the ceremony, so they are working magic this week to finish in time.Construction of the KidsUp! play structure will continue every day until the barbecue and opening ceremony at 5 p.m. May 20. Information: 842-1815. "