When she was a little girl, Caryl Johannsen lived across the street from a park.
She and her twin sister, Cheryl, often went to that park in Wahoo.
“We played outside at the park all the time,” said Johannsen, president of the Fremont Noon Kiwanis Club. “We played with our neighbors and friends and created our own fun — and I think parks are important.”
Now, Johannsen is part of another endeavor involving a park near Splash Station.
She and other Kiwanians are working hard to raise $150,000 for new playground equipment for Johnson Park in Fremont.
Today, the Friends of the Fremont Area Parks will present a check for $91,496 to Burke, Inc., for the equipment and then it will be on order with delivery set for early spring, said Don Cunningham, Kiwanis Club president-elect.
At the meeting, an announcement also will be made of a $25,000 donation from the Fremont Area Community Foundation.
“This enables us to pay for the playground equipment and speeds us toward our ultimate goal of paying for the ground surface and project installation by Memorial Day,” Cunningham said.
Installation is expected to take two days.
Dostal’s Construction Co., of Gretna will supervise the installation.
“We will use community members to do the bulk of the construction,” Cunningham said.
The “community build” effort is intended to reduce the project’s overall cost.
Launched in 2018, the project is designed to provide a playground on the east side of the city — home to several schools and set for significant growth in the next few years.
Johannsen said the Kiwanians worked with the city and the Friends of Fremont Parks to determine the location.
“It’s available to everyone and it could be another draw to attract people to come to Fremont,” Johannsen added.
The playground is designed for children ages 2 to 12.
It will be inclusive — meaning that children of all abilities will be able to use it. It will include features that children in wheelchairs will be able to access. A merry-go-round, that is low to the ground, will be accessible to all children.
“We think it’s important for everyone to play and grow together,” Johannsen said.
Early on in the process, Kiwanians brought drawings with options of different equipment to local elementary schools to get input from children on what they’d like to see at the playground. Children got to vote on what they liked.
Kiwanians brought those ideas to Burke to incorporate some of the children’s choices.
Drawings from Burke show brightly colored equipment that includes slides, covered areas, bridges and ramps. Children can walk up and play with some of the equipment’s interactive features. Johannsen said there are pieces with colors and activities that incorporate math.
She added that the playground also has a section for younger children ages 2 to 5.
The area will have a special surface that’s easy to walk and use a wheelchair on, Johannsen said. There also will be a small, cement path on which children can ride their bikes.
Donations, which are tax deductible, are still needed. To donate, go to the FACF website at:
facfoundation.org/splashstationplayground.html or send a check to: Stacy at Friends of the Fremont Area Parks, Playground Fund, First State Bank & Trust, 1005 E. 23 St., Fremont NE 68025. The check should be made out to “Friends of the Parks, Playground Fund” and write playground or Kiwanis or Splash Station on your check.
“We’re getting so much support,” Johannsen said. “It’s so great. There are so many generous people and businesses in our community and they’re excited about the project, too. We can’t help but be excited and can’t wait for the park to be here.”