Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

July 31, 2009

Ridge Runner plan stirs memories of Yakkity-Yak playground success

Eleven years ago Lecia Smith had a dream. A dream of sparkling new swing sets and jungle gyms. A dream of shiny slides and bright plastic tunnels. A dream of a brand-new, top-notch playground for kids located at Bluefield’s own city park.

After a year of planning, a year of fund raising and a week of hard labor, Lecia’s dream — one that spread to thousands in the community — became a reality in the form of Yakkity-Yak playground at Bluefield’s Lotito City Park.

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Most of those who lived in and around Bluefield in 1998 knew of Yakkity-Yak. Reports of the playground’s progress were frequent in this paper and on television news. It seemed like just about everyone was caught up in the spirit of building a new playground for the region’s youth.

Some folks were able to give monetary donations — a couple of bucks, or a couple of thousand. Others contributed with sweat and hard work during the actual building process.

No matter the form of the donation, it was appreciated.

During the months of fund raising, $250,000 was raised for the playground.

“We recruited 1,500 volunteers to build the playground,” Lecia said last week, while reminiscing of that project more than a decade ago. “And we worked with multiple local businesses to get them on board to donate.”

Lecia recalled that planning for the new playground took place over many months while the fund raising was in high gear. During this time, individuals on the committee to build Yakkity-Yak met with playground experts and local children to develop the design of the new facility.

Actual construction of the playground took place over five days.

“Originally, it was all antiquated equipment,” Lecia said. “We ripped it all out and built that thing from the ground up.”

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