On Friday, the Dodgers, The City of Alhambra, and non-profit KaBOOM! partnered to reconstruct an aging playground at Alhambra Park. The organization, which celebrated its 22nd anniversary in 2017, builds ADA-accessible play spaces to promote active and healthier lives for children, concentrating on underserved communities across the country.
The project adds to the expansive amenities already present at Alhambra Park, including volleyball courts, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a water park.
As part of their “Dodgers Love LA” community tour, 21 Dodgers were in attendance, including major names such as pitcher Clayton Kershaw, first baseman Cody Bellinger and team manager Dave Roberts. The tour is part of a week-long community outreach initiative with the Dodgers and Bank of America across Los Angeles County. From arranging benches to building a climbing geo dome, a webbed half-sphere that children climb on and through, the team was working side by side with Alhambra residents and Bank of America volunteers. Bellinger didn’t realize how complex building a playground could be, but it didn’t change how rewarding he found it. “We are having a blast,” he said.
KaBOOM! Project Manager, Amy Larson, discussed the renovations coordinated last Friday. “We are building a new playground, a corn hole area, eight benches, a giant Jenga station, and installing six little free libraries at other parks in the area,” she said. In addition to the list of improvements, the play space will include a geo dome climber, rubber surfacing and will be ADA-compliant for physically disabled people, a characteristic popular among KaBOOM! projects.
Darin Eng was among the crowd of eager and motivated volunteers present for the build. Starting his day at 6:30am, Eng hauled a bucket with concrete smudges by his side and a purple mesh shirt with the KaBOOM! logo. He is a long-time Alhambra resident, a member of the Alhambra Transportation Committee and a dedicated Dodger fan. He was impressed by the attention to detail and coordination KaBOOM! and its volunteers were practicing throughout the day. “Everyone is so well organized,” he said.
On recounting memorable moments of the day, Eng led with his experience working with Dodger pitcher Scott Alexander, to build a blue Cozy Cocoon. According to the playground equipment manufacturer, PLAYWORLD, the inclusive piece is described as being for all children, but specially designed for those with autism spectrum disorders. The single capacity enclosed space serves as a getaway for children who become anxious or overstimulated on the playground.
Garret Gin, a Bank of America representative, which was involved with organizing “Dodgers Love LA,” was impressed by the dedication of Alhambra’s residents like Eng as hardworking volunteers come in and out of the construction zone. “[I see] a really strong community effort here in Alhambra,” said Gin.
Gin was also amazed by the amount of experience the volunteers had before coming to the Playground Build event, as he watched a group of volunteers efficiently build a slide together. “You see them pouring concrete and drilling in bits,” he said.
Alhambra Park was chosen because its old playground had accessibility and safety issues, said Naomi Rodriguez, Dodgers Vice President of External Affairs and Community Relations. She was excited to facilitate community outreach with the team and within Los Angeles county. “It’s amazing to see the impact we can have in just a single day by uniting our players and valued partners, and hope that this state-of-the-art playground will be home to many happy memories for the children in our community for years to come,” said Rodriguez.
In 2017, KaBOOM! built over 100 playgrounds and seeks to build even more in 2018. After finalizing construction at Alhambra Park, Larson and her crew will travel to Anaheim to work on another project with their partner Disney. Larson praises the residents and neighbors that came to support their Alhambra community. “Folks and staff have been great, they deserve so much credit,” she said.
Updated Jan. 29, 2018 at 8:34 p.m.