Tony Hallmark checks plumb while installing playground equipment Saturday afternoon at Gold Bar Elementary School in Gold Bar. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Tony Hallmark checks plumb while installing playground equipment Saturday afternoon at Gold Bar Elementary School in Gold Bar. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

In Gold Bar, it takes a village to build a playground

After a couple months, the community raised about $60,000 to replace aging, cracked equipment.

GOLD BAR — The 30-year-old playground at Gold Bar Elementary had been showing its age.

It was to the point that people who grew up in the area realized they’d played on the same playground as their children.

Finally, on Saturday, following an intense couple of months of fundraising, it was replaced. Gone are the bent and split support poles, and the cracked platforms that flexed with each step. No longer do children have to run across a bridge with bolts that had been warped from overuse, or swing on monkey bars that, over the winter, fell off and had to be welded back on.

Now, children have more slides and more swings to play on. There’s an oversized xylophone, and equipment made for those with disabilities.

It’s just in time for more children to be allowed back to school, as the district cautiously loosens pandemic restrictions, welcoming third-graders back to the fold on Monday.

Principal Heather Anderson said it was an example of a community coming together to do something good, during a year fraught with challenges.

Justin Pierce digs to widen a footing for playground equipment Saturday afternoon at Gold Bar Elementary School in Gold Bar. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Justin Pierce digs to widen a footing for playground equipment Saturday afternoon at Gold Bar Elementary School in Gold Bar. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Earlier in the year, Alaina Solada, a teacher and vice president of the school’s parent-teacher organization, decided it was time to do something about the playground. She started pitching the idea to her third-grade students, asking them what they’d like to see. “Slides, slides, slides,” they chimed — and more swings, too. (There are now three slides, compared to just one before, and six swings.)

When Solada called the company that originally built the old playground, she learned the school couldn’t buy parts to modify the existing structure. The company informed her the playground was in such bad condition it should be condemned.

So Solada researched what it would take to build a new playground. Eventually, she talked to Michael Yates, a local sales representative for Buell Recreation. Together, they decided on an $80,000 playground, which the company then discounted to about $60,000.

Yates said he was impressed with Solada’s vision, and recognized the playground’s importance to Gold Bar, where recreation opportunities for kids were few. The field in which it’s located is one of the biggest open spaces in town, and is where the Gold Dust Days heritage festival is held in the summers.

The sales representative said he figured it was the beginning of a fundraising process that would take two years or so, not a handful of weeks.

Volunteers assemble playground equipment Saturday afternoon at Gold Bar Elementary School in Gold Bar. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Volunteers assemble playground equipment Saturday afternoon at Gold Bar Elementary School in Gold Bar. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Solada, Principal Anderson and others began “dialing for dollars.” Solada grabbed her husband’s phone and went through the list of people they knew who worked for trucking companies. Several pitched in to the effort.

Local businesses joined in, too. The Gold Bar Market put out a collection dish at the cash register, asking customers if they’d like to donate. Invara Pharmacy in Sultan gave away 10 percent of profits for two months to the cause. Sultan School District board members doled out their year’s salary, totaling more than $14,000. The city of Gold Bar also put forth a significant contribution, Solada said.

In all, more than 150 people donated, Solada said. And when the fundraisers neared their goal, Romac Industries put them over the finish line with a $6,000 contribution.

On Saturday, the play area became a mess of dirt and concrete and plastic, as volunteers adorned in orange and green neon shirts assembled the new playground.

Yates, the sales rep, helped out as well.

“I figured if the principal has her galoshes on and is sloshing around in the mud, I better pull my weight,” he said.

Anderson, the principal, said a quarter of disciplinary referrals come from recess. She thinks they’ll go down with the new playground, partly because kids won’t have to fight over sharing the equipment.

In an update on a GoFundMe page, she thanked people for their help.

“We know that it takes a village to raise kiddos,” she wrote, “and we have an amazing village out here in the Sky Valley.”

Solada said she had just been reading the book “A Day at the Park” with students. They asked where the playground had gone. She said a new one was being built. Their eyes lit up, she said, as she told them about all the new equipment they could soon be playing on.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Paul McElhany points out how far the new building will extend past the current building at Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Mukilteo Research Station on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Oh, crab! NOAA’s Mukilteo waterfront fish lab won’t be rebuilt

Bids for a new Northwest Fisheries Science Center research station are too high. Are condos next?

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney during an interview at the sheriff’s department June 17, 2020. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Auditor denies Fortney recall group the extra time it seeks

He said he could extend the deadline for signature gathering if ordered by a court or the Governor.

State Patrol worker from Everett charged with attempted child rape

Trevor Smith worked as a commercial vehicle enforcement officer assigned inspecting school buses.

A pre-loaded syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine sits on the table for the next person in line during a vaccine clinic as South Pointe Assisted Living on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County to receive its largest shipment of vaccines

Even as case counts drop, researchers are finding a growing number of COVID variants in the state.

Austin Johnson, 26 years-old, trains on the Centennial Trail in Lake Stevens and is planning to do a 24-hour run to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
24 hours, 80 miles, $23k raised for mental health

Austin Johnson completes a 24-hour run along the Centennial Trail to raise money for suicide prevention.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Everett man found dead in creek near Lake Stevens

The man, 28, was reported missing Thursday. A neighbor found his body in Little Pilchuck Creek.

Autopsy shows Lake Stevens woman, 20, drowned Saturday

Anna M. Lopez was swimming when witnesses noticed she was not responsive, according to officials.

Joe Hempel swims off of the shore of Seawall Park on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 in Langley, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Scantily clad is the dress code for these cold rush swimmers

Immersed for 30 minutes in frigid water would kill most of us. It energizes these swimmers.

Most Read