By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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More than 100 children crowded onto almost every inch of flat surface of the new playground at Shane Park after city officials, residents and the volunteers who made the playground a reality gathered under drizzling skies for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“It is a special day for the entire community who supported this project from the beginning,” Corey Delikat, Port Angeles Parks & Recreation director, told a crowd of some 70 to 80 people at the west-side park between Sixth and Eighth streets and G and E streets.
The playground, with 30 features including slides, monkey bars, towers, swings and an upside-down merry-go-round, is the first of its kind on the North Olympic Peninsula made to be fully accessible to children of all ages and children with disabilities.
Before helping to cut the ribbon and allowing the children to play, Delikat thanked many city staff member and volunteers.
But he singled out one woman, Port Angeles resident Janet Young, without whom the playground would not have happened.
“In three short years, I have seen a shy woman become a leader and an inspiration in this community,” Delikat said about Young, the mother of the boy for whom the park is named.
Young, who lives across from the park, envisioned playground equipment there.
She spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the new playground starting in 2010.
The Shane Park Playground Committee she founded secured $45,000 through bowling parties, community meals, dice games and a pickleball marathon over the course of nearly two years for the state-of-the-art playground.
The city chipped in $81,000, while the Parks & Recreation Department landed a $39,000 grant from the state Recreation and Conservation office to help fund the $165,000 project.
“This playground was built for the community, but it was also completely built by the community,” Amy Billings, vice president of the Shane Park Playground Committee, told the crowd.
Young did not speak at the ceremony. In an interview before the ceremony, she said she didn’t know quite how to put her emotions on the opening day of the playground into words.
“I’m feeling overwhelmed, excited. This day means everything to me,” she said.
“I couldn’t have done this without the rest of the town.”
During the organization and fundraising process, Young said she received only positive reactions from the businesses or organizations she asked for donations.
“I never felt it wasn’t going to happen,” Young said.
The park, originally built in 1973, was named in honor of Young’s son, Shane Fowler, who died of injuries suffered at the park while it was being built.
“It is Shane Park, for the little boy who will forever play here with all his friends,” Billings said at the opening ceremony, fighting back tears.
During the contest to name the park, a young girl suggested naming it after Shane, for the “little boy who never got to play here.”
The new playground joins an open field, tennis courts, softball diamonds and walking paths through a stand of trees.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.