Honeymoon Island State Park's new “limitless” playground had already passed third-grader Aiden Barnes' test when officials celebrated its grand opening ceremony Saturday.
The Madeira Beach Fundamental student was all smiles when he cut the ribbon.
The new playground replaces one that had been worn by Honeymoon Island’s salty air. Its construction was stalled slightly over the summer when a gopher tortoise burrow was found on the site, so the new playground was moved about 200 feet. Officials built a fence around the tortoise's area. And to keep with the playful theme, one of the park’s biologists even added a wooden horse to its corral.
The playground is called limitless because it is accessible to all, including children who need special assistance or parents or grandparents who join them.
Four years of research and planning went into its design. A playground committee, comprised of Diane Hood, Scott Hood, Bob Meadows and Ron Geisheimer, visited most of the playgrounds in a 30-mile radius of Honeymoon Island to discover what worked best. They interviewed children, parents and park managers before deciding on the new plans.
“I love it,” says visitor Paula Russo who is on the ramp of the playground in her motorized scooter. “I feel safe and secure, and I can bring my great niece here and play with her.”
The playground committee enlisted the help of Geisheimer's grandson, Aiden, on the park's final plans.
Aiden addressed the crowd before cutting the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony Nov. 17. He told officials how he documented his experience for a school project.
Money for the playground was raised by the volunteer organization Friends of the Island Parks. Publix donated some of the capital, and additional funds were raised at Countryside Country Club’s Love Fore Charity Tournament in March.
[Last Updated Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 at 8:53 p.m.]