On the same day Puyallup schools let out for the summer, the city celebrated the opening of its newest playground in Veterans Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday.
Located at 805 5th St. NE along the Puyallup River, Veterans Park is the city’s newest neighborhood park. The $35,000 playground features a double slide and various climbing equipment meant for children ages 2 through 12.
Local veterans played a big role in the development of Veterans Park, and helped put together a 20-year plan in 2013 that involved building a playground.
“The veteran groups really stepped forward,” said Sarah Harris, director of Puyallup Parks and Recreation.
In 2013, American Legion Post 67, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2224, the Pierce County Veterans Bureau and Fleet Reserve Branch 104 helped name the park.
In 2015, American Legion Post 67 secured a $30,000 grant from the Puyallup Tribe to build the park’s picnic pavilion, which features barbecues and four uncovered picnic tables.
“We’ve had our last two picnics here,” said Tom Shriver, a member of Post 67. “It’s a nice, quiet spot.”
We’ve had our last two picnics here. ... It’s a nice, quiet spot.
Tom Shriver, member of American Legion Post 67
In the years following, Post 67 helped the city secure funds to install a flagpole and expand parking. In 2016, the city installed new bathrooms.
This playground is the park’s newest feature. The foundation of the playground was built by the 504th Military Police Battalion, the city’s partnership group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“We thought, ‘What a great thing — our current military working with our veterans,’” Harris said.
For the design of the playground, the parks department enlisted the help of Cascade Christian Schools kindergarteners.
“They helped choose which colors they liked,” Harris said.
The students chose vibrant blue and green colors to represent the Seahawks.
Puyallup Mayor John Hopkins said there’s still more to look forward to when it comes to Veterans Park.
A swinging bench is planned to be built in honor of Bob Kastama, a longtime Puyallup resident who passed away this year and sparked the initial idea for the park.
Hopkins said the city also has plans to open up the park for a view of the river.