It is so, so nice to have all three kids on the swings at once.
That’s the verdict of one mom, Ashley Flaherty, who brought her little ones to Fort Nugent Park to play and enjoy the festivities marking the 10-year anniversary of the playground.
That party on a perfect Oak Harbor sunny day featured snacks, balloons and play time on the original equipment, and some new features, including an “Expressions Swing” that lets an older child or adult swing facing a baby.
Flaherty pushed her daughter, 3, and her two sons, including infant Cameron, who practiced his favorite expressions — sticking out his tongue at his older brother and gnawing on the new swing.
“He loves it,” said mom.
It took the entire community to build this playground a decade ago. It’s the focal point of the 40-acre park, which includes sports fields.
The city worked with a premier nationwide playground builder to create a custom play structure for Oak Harbor’s children that included local touches such as a ship that says “US Navy.” The company visited Oak Harbor schools and interviewed nearly 1,000 students. Kids offered their ideas, grown ups listened and took their suggestions with them. The kids wanted pirate ships, tree forts, bridges, castles, slides, mazes and swing.
They got them.
The project included hundreds of volunteer hours. People chipped in to pay for equipment.
One of those volunteers was John Fowkes of Oak Harbor, who returned to the celebration to look at the product of his and other’s efforts. He remembers working all day and into the evening until they sent him home.
“It’s phenomenal,” he said. “What amazes me is how well it’s held up.”
Volunteers ranged from ages 80 to 2. The youngest sorted nuts and bolts for workers.
The park was first developed in 1999. It’s also used by Little League Baseball, Youth Soccer Leagues and Youth Football.