Thursday, September 16, 2010

Senseless and Sad

Last night, a little after 11:00 pm, we heard sirens.  They seemed very close, perhaps even in our neighborhood, but we didn't know where exactly they were or what was going on.  This morning, we heard on the news what had happened.  

Part of the children's playground called the "Imagination Station" had burned.  This playground is in the middle of the park where I take my walks just a couple of blocks from my home.  I go by this playground nearly every day.

Hearing this news was incredibly sad for all of us here in my town.  Perhaps some will think that it was just a playground and it is no big deal, but to the people who live here it WAS a big deal.  

This was a big deal because it was a community project.  The money ($130,000) was all donated from private funds to build this playground, and it was built by the people of the town here themselves (2,600 volunteers).  It was designed from ideas that were contributed by area school children when asked what they would like to have as part of their playground.

This was a big deal to me personally, as well.  My Dad, my husband, and my older son (who was just five years old at the time) were all part of those from our community who volunteered their time to help build this playground.  My younger son was born the same year this playground was built.  Both of my boys grew up playing here.  

We have been to countless birthday parties and family picnics and class get-togethers held here over the years.  There is a picnic pavilion next to these structures where Vacation Bible School from our church was held and where end of season sports parties were attended by my boys.  Time was always set aside to play on the playground as a part of these gatherings.

It is not known yet what or who caused this fire, or whether it was accidental or intentional.  Whether it was the result of a careless accident or a malicious, senseless arson, the result is the same.  The number of people affected by the loss here are many.  Damage is estimated at $100,000.

If I know the people of my town, this playground will be rebuilt, but in the meantime, the children here have been robbed of one of their favorite places to play.

This is what was on the front page of our local newspaper tonight.  If you click on the picture, you may be able to read the article for yourself, if you are interested.

This is a picture of my younger son playing at the playground when both he and the structure were just two or three years old.  This son is now 16 years old.

My older son, the twenty-year-old who helped build this playground so many years ago had some of his senior pictures from high school taken at the playground.

When I went to visit the playground tonight to take pictures of where the fire had been, there was a crowd of people milling about the perimeter of the yellow fire line tape.  Some were taking pictures, like me.  Others were just standing silently by and looking at the damage.  Two small boys who looked to be about five years old walked up and stood next to me by the fire line tape.

They stood and stared at the remains of the playground in awe and in silence for a moment or two, and then one of them spoke in a small, sad voice and said, "Holy crap!"  

The other boy's face also looking very sad and as if he might cry, said angrily, "Whoever did this is just STUPID!"

Well said, and I couldn't agree more.