Members of the Blue Jackets front office, hockey operations and players spent a perfect September day giving back to the community.
In what has become one of the biggest collaborative efforts of the summer, the Blue Jackets partnered once again with Columbus Parks and Recreation to breathe life back into a playground that needed an upgrade.
A year ago, the organization helped build a one-of-a-kind, hockey-themed playground at Krumm Park on the city’s east side and it was so popular, that “why not another one?” was a question that soon become more and more realistic.
On the opposite side of the metropolitan area, Westgate Park’s playground seemed like the perfect place to conduct the 2014 build.
VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE PLAYGROUND BUILD
“It was a great day—and a day that will impact kids in the Westgate neighborhood for years to come," said Woody Woodward, executive director of the Ohio Parks & Recreation Association. "The playground is amazing, but it’s more than a playground. It’s an investment in the quality of life of these kids. The Blue Jackets organization gets that, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
A grant of $50,000 from the Blue Jackets Foundation got the ball rolling, and with the help of volunteers from the Blue Jackets, Columbus Parks and Rec, and several local organizations, the real work began early Friday morning.
From mulching to building slides, steps and the many unique elements of the new Westgate Park playground, it was a jam-packed day but one well worth it once the finished product came together for an afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Blue Jackets players Matt Calvert, Curtis McElhinney and Mark Letestu were on-hand and helped with the playground construction, as well.
It didn't take long for the new playground to become the center of attention; within hours of the new playground being finished, several kids and their families made their way to the park to check out the new addition.
“It was an honor and a thrill for the Blue Jackets organization to be part of such a great day," said Greg Kirstein, Blue Jackets senior vice president and interim executive director of the Blue Jackets Foundation. "This was a true community effort – including our staff, Woody Woodward and Ohio Parks and Recreation, Columbus Parks and Recreation, Blue Jackets fans and members of the Westgate community.
"I’d like to extend our gratitude to Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation Alan McKnight and City Councilman Hearcel F. Craig for helping to make this a terrific playground build.”