Contest winnings help renovate Lake Andes parkLAKE ANDES — From dilapidated to delightful, the Lake Andes City Park has made a stunning transformation.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
LAKE ANDES — From dilapidated to delightful, the Lake Andes City Park has made a stunning transformation thanks to an online contest, a grant and fundraising efforts.
Once in a state of disrepair, the city park is now complete with a new jungle gym and swing set as well as wood chips and a concrete sidewalk surrounding the playground structures.
The city park facelift was made possible by a $10,000 prize the city won through the Reader’s Digest We Hear You America Contest. Online voting started in November and continued through March, and readers were encouraged to vote for the community project they wanted to help fund.
The Lake Andes park took fifth in the contest. The top vote-getter, Lake City, Iowa, received a $50,000 grant. The top 18 cities received money.
The Lake Andes park also received a $15,000 KaBOOM! grant. KaBOOM! is a nonprofit that helps low-income communities build playgrounds.
The Lake Andes Community Committee also chipped in $16,000 to help with the project.
It cost a total of $55,000, and the remaining money was raised through raffles and benefit dinners by the Lake Andes Park Project Committee.
Committee member Patti Ronfeldt said the park has already received a lot more use since the new equipment was installed earlier this month.
“Every night since it has been installed there have been a ton of kids playing there,” she said. “We have already hosted a couple birthday parties there, and we have seen some people have picnics there as well.”
The new jungle gym features five shiny yellow slides, several ladders to climb and even an insect identification chart.
Before the new playground equipment was installed by nearly 50 volunteers and South Dakota National Guard members, much of the equipment at the playground was vandalized, broken and unsafe.
Now a coated metal and plastic structure rises from the ground in the heart of the city. The new wood chip-filled area is also an added safety feature.
“We have had lots of compliments from parents on that,” Ronfeldt said.
“They pretty much love the whole place and are happy there is a fun and safe place for the kids to play.”
Keeping the new equipment in good condition now becomes a major priority. Ronfeldt said the Lake Andes Park Project Committee will partner with the city of Lake Andes to make sure the park is clean and safe in the future.