BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hundreds of volunteers spent their Friday getting their hands dirty to build a new playground at Martin Luther King Jr Park in just a matter of hours.
The build was made possible through a partnership between the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield’s Blue Fund, KaBOOM!, and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
Planning started months ago, with local children helping firm up the design. Over the last week, volunteers laid the groundwork for Friday’s build.
As the sun rose over the park Friday morning, volunteers were already getting to work to put the playground elements in place. The plan was to cut the ribbon by 2:30 that afternoon.
“This is the City of Good Neighbors and this project really represents everything that Buffalo stands for,” said Michael Ball, the director of the Blue Fund.
“For me, it’s a great blessing to be a part of it at all,” said Mary Wilson, wife of the late- Ralph Wilson and Live Trustee for the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.
The Ralph C. Wilson Junior Foundation offered a matching grant to the Blue Fund to help pay for the $300,000 playground.
It is three times the size of the old, outdated playground it is replacing at that site in the park and it is designed to be universally accessible.
“So it’s good for kids with all types of abilities including wheelchairs and we even have some implements that will help kids that are blind, deaf, autistic. It’s going to be a wonderful playground,” said Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
“We’re really excited that families and kids of all backgrounds and abilities can play in one place together,” added Malia Xie, program director for the Ralph C. Wilson Jr Foundation.
Even after volunteers wrap up their work Friday, it will still be a little while before kids can play on the new playground. The concrete needs to fully cure and a few of the features need to be finalized.
Crockatt says the goal is to have it ready for kids to play on by October 1.