For years, Winchester families have been bringing their children to Ginn Playground located behind the Bacon Street softball fields. This park, founded in 1988, has given way to years of excessive usage and weathering and residents believe it is time for a major overhaul.
There are no swings and climbing areas are boarded up; the railings and walkways are uneven, and splintered wood is abundant. There are no bars for the monkey climb, the tires are cracked and weathered. And the structure has been defaced by graffiti.
The Winchester Neighbor's Club and other parents got together and founded The Ginn Playground Restoration Project. This group of dedicated citizens has made it their goal to raise enough funds to rebuild and design a new park. The fundraising efforts began in September 2009 and so far they have been able to raise half of the $316,000 goal.
The money comes in a variety of ways. Private donations are tax deductible as a 501(C)(3) charity. The Ginn Playground Restoration committee holds a variety of family based fundraisers throughout the Winchester Community, and other groups are welcome to fundraise and donate to the cause.
On Saturday, Sep. 15, the Storybook Workshop held the "Very Fun Fundraiser" at the United Methodist Church. The day was geared towards children aged three to seven. The focus of the event was the literature of Eric Carle known most for his book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".
This event had many forms of entertainment for children and families. Storybook Workshop director Tina Moran was inspired by a recent visit to the Eric Carle museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. She decided to volunteer and organize a fundraising program that incorporated music, movement and arts with the stories by Eric Carle.
After much planning and the help from many other Winchester citizens the "Very Fun Fundraiser" took flight.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar was there to greet children, a gift from Liz Warrick of "Who Says Parenting Couldn't Be Fun?" The United Methodist Church donated their space, Lincoln Elementary school teacher Aideen Hunt gave her time to read stories and Tina Moran held an interactive music and motion story-telling segment.
BookEnds was there selling Eric Carle's storybooks and proceeds of sales went to the Ginn Restoration.
There was face-painting, bean bag toss, cut-outs to color, and at the very end of a very busy hour – the children got to design their very own Mark Carle inspired tissue paper collage art.
Many parents in attendance just want a park where their children can play.
"I have an eight year old who played at Ginn and now my three year old cannot," said Deirdre Giblin, a Winchester mother of three daughters, aged three, six and eight. "That's why I am here, so that she can enjoy the same great Ginn Playground. It's a place to meet other Winchester moms. There are now no swings there, it's just not a playground anymore. It's a shame to have to get in a car to go to a playground instead of walking with strollers."
Currently there is one park across the city, but Ginn's central location makes it the most appealing stop.
Some parents said that when they went to Ginn they could stop at the Common, watch the trains, eat ice cream and buy lunch or a book. Now they say, they're going to parks in Medford and Arlington. They believe rebuilding Ginn would be an economic revitalization for downtown Winchester.
The future design of Ginn includes the landscaping and redesign of the land and the riverfront. The play structure itself will have a tree-house look with climbing walls, spider nets, and giant musical instruments. Conceptual design can be found on the Ginn Playground Restoration Project website.
The website also has listings of upcoming events, donation information, frequently asked questions and more. Engraved bricks and fence posts are another way to give and to have the guarantors name or dedication as part of a permanent structure. Some private donors, including the Griffin Foundation, have offered match donations. The hope is to have enough money raised by fall 2011.
Organizer, Mary Ellen Rourke-Falvey said that parents and citizens of Winchester are encouraged to donate as little or as much as they can to the Ginn Playground Restoration project.
On Saturday, Oct. 2, the BeGinn Again organization will be hosting its second annual Autumn Festival Fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ginn Field.