St. Charles County’s first all-inclusive playground is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month after getting a bit of a facelift.
The anniversary celebration is set for Saturday, June 24 with festivities kicking off with a 5K and 1-mile run starting at about 8:30 a.m. Other activities start at 9:30 a.m. and end at noon. Children can enjoy free bounce houses, balloon artists, music games, magicians and face painters. Food trucks will be on site. And the playground will be open before and after a ribbon-cutting ceremony that starts at about 10 a.m.
The playground, which was closed in March for refurbishing, has actually been open since mid-May.
Darren Noelken, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said the parking lot at Hawk Ridge Park, off Orf Road will be closed. Street parking spots will be reserved for accessible parking and food trucks. The city also is asking that drivers avoid using Orf Road, east of Lake Saint Louis Boulevard, from 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Instead, celebration parking will be at the National Equestrian Center at 6880 Lake Saint Louis Boulevard. A complimentary shuttle service will be provided to and from the event parking lot. For more information, contact parks officials at (636) 561-4620 or at www.lakesaintlouis.com/parks.
Zachary’s Playground began when Todd and Natalie Blackmore found their son, Zachary, couldn’t play with other children in most playgrounds because a disability confined him to a wheelchair. In 2002, the Blackmores were introduced to a more accessible playground in Washington, D.C., and they began work on creating a similar playground in Lake Saint Louis.
The playground opened in 2007 and featured a specially designed playground, the rubberized surface and later a splash pad. The playground was one of the first in the St. Louis area and became a “destination” attraction for families here and from other parts of the county. Now, there are other inclusive playgrounds in the county.
The soft, pliable surface is a key component of a facility designed to accommodate children with disabilities who often can’t play on standard playground equipment. The cost of maintaining that equipment is high and maintenance is required every eight to 10 years. Heavy use and wheelchairs often rip up the surface.
In January, the Lake Saint Louis Board of Aldermen has approved awarding a $300,000 contract to All Inclusive Rec. LLC for the design, materials and installation of a new surface for the playground. Funding for the project is from revenue from Proposition P, a 10-year, half-cent sale tax that city voters approved in 2013, which will fund a number of parks and public works projects.