New playground at Shillito Park officially open, and ready for fun

“We did it,” said Mayor Linda Gorton, as she officially declared the new accessible playground at Shillito Park open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning. “Our City came together, an army of volunteers, to build a new playground that will be enjoyed for years to come.”

“Lexington is the kind of place where hundreds of people will show up to build a playground. I love that about our City,” Gorton said.=

Over 800 individual volunteers participated, donating over 3,600 hours of labor to the project. Many volunteers had connections to the original Shillito Playground Build 27 years ago. “People who grew up playing on that playground got to bring their own kids to help build the next chapter,” Gorton said.

Councilmember Jennifer Mossotti said, “Over a period of five days, from sunrise to sunset, groups, individuals, moms, dads, children, grandparents, students, our Parks & Recreation staff, Councilmembers, police and fire personnel, fraternity brothers, scouts and so many others worked tremendously hard to build a new accessible playground that our city can truly reflect upon with great pride.”

Parks and Recreation Division Director Monica Conrad thanked the United Way of the Bluegrass, local businesses, and volunteers who made the build possible.

The United Way helped Parks recruit volunteers. “Every day when the volunteers arrived, friendly faces from the United Way were there to greet them and sign them in,” Conrad said. “Their motto is “LIVE UNITED,” and they certainly helped Lexington do just that on this project.”

Local businesses and community groups supported the project through donations and volunteer hours. “There’s a long list of local businesses that stepped up to help us bring a new playground to Lexington,” Gorton said. “Lexington has wonderful corporate citizens.”

For example, volunteers received meals with every shift, thanks to Lexington restaurants. Shade structures were added to the playground because of labor and material donations from Kentucky Utilities and the Kelly Group. Volunteers used tools donated by Lowe’s. And Fifth Third Bank, Kroger and U.S. Bank supplied drinking water.

The community build and donations are valued at approximately $125,000, which allowed the city to add equipment to the playground.

“We felt the support of the community at every turn, and cannot wait to see children exploring this new magical space,” Gorton said. “Get out and play at Shillito!”