Forest Park playground vandalized, then these moms got mad

A small group of mothers acted fast to clean up the graffiti — possibily the act of some bored teens.

Everett mothers Heather Patackas, left, and Kimberly Mehlhoff got together with others to clean up graffiti at the newly opened Forest Park playground on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Laura Boucock)

Everett mothers Heather Patackas, left, and Kimberly Mehlhoff got together with others to clean up graffiti at the newly opened Forest Park playground on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Laura Boucock)

EVERETT — The graffiti showed up overnight at the new Forest Park playground.

Statues of children had red paint splattered over their faces. Someone drew mushrooms and flowers. The elephant climbing sculpture had its eyes colored in.

And scrawled over a piece of equipment was the word “BUTT.”

Laura Boucock said she was upset when she saw pictures of the vandalism posted on Facebook Friday morning. The new $900,000 playground had been open mere months. For a long while, kids could only stare longingly at it through a fence.

“In Everett we are always fighting for nice things like this,” she said. “I saw this and was like, kids, this is why we can’t have nice things!”

Soon after Boucock reposted the pictures expressing her frustration, another mother, Kimberly Mehlhoff, volunteered to clean it up. She was armed with Krud Kutter.

Mehlhoff said she hardly visits the playground anymore, but she used to go all the time with her son, who is now 18.

“I’m a former Girl Scout,” she said. “If there’s a call to action, I like to help.”

A small group of mothers quickly formed. They met up at the park around noon and went to work. Word of mouth reached the city, and soon ranger Charles Shannon and parks maintenance technician Brad Wall joined the effort, armed with more supplies.

“This is what happens when moms get mad,” Laura Patackas said.

By that, she apparently meant that they get together, do some cleaning and joke about who the culprits might be.

The graffiti wasn’t the work of some artistic prodigy. And it wasn’t likely the doing of someone associated with a gang — or at least there weren’t any gang-related tags.

The art appeared juvenile, maybe the product of some bored teenagers.

“It was done by kids who clearly needed a community center,” Patackas said.

With a few hours of spraying, scrubbing and wiping, most of the damage was undone.

Boucock and Patackas said they’ve been taking their respective children to the park regularly for years. And Boucock, who grew up in Everett, remembers going to the park when she was a kid herself. In this part of Everett, there aren’t many places to take kids, and even fewer with swings — a high-demand commodity among youngsters.

The mothers hope they can continue using the new playground, without further trouble.

“It’s unfortunate this happened,” Patackas said. “It was a beautiful park until this happened.”

Now, with a little elbow grease, it’s a beautiful park once more.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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