Cancer survivors. Octogenarians. Children with shovels. Mothers with drills. Some of the people assembling playground parts had to shuffle across the wood chips, backs bent.
“This is going to hurt tomorrow,” joked one Rotarian on a September Saturday back in 2017.
But that little bit of pain transformed a playground where children never played, reviving it into a community gathering place.
Like a lot of people, Amy Schwartz, a local resident and mom, noticed that the playground needed some help. Equipment was breaking and not being replaced. People were dumping their own unloved toys there. Families who lived 100 feet away would drive twenty minutes rather than play there. But unlike a lot of people, Amy did something about it. She fundraised for years to finance a revitalized playground where kids would want to play.
The Bar Harbor (MDI) Rotary club stepped in, increasing the financial donations and adding to the amount of people power behind the project. Restaurants made Park Street Pretzels and had dance parties. Color books and calendars were created and sold. Banks held golf tournaments. Rotarians held golf tournaments and donated funds from the July Fourth Seafood Festival. Children gave away their birthday money.
Town voters also agreed to add funds and a playground was reborn.
On that work day, over twenty people helped hoist the base of a swing set, working together to get it up straight.
On that work day, people pondered instructions, tightened bolts, dug holes. They worked together, collaborating. Even though they lived in the same town, some of them had never met before. Some might not cross paths again. Some were liberal. Some were conservative. Some could have cared less about politics. Some drove up all the way up from Massachusetts to help their family. But on that day? They were part of the same community.
And two years later? People still gather there. Kids holler and play hide-and-seek. Parents talk. Birthdays are celebrated. Books are snatched out of the Little Free Library. Tag happens. Friendships happen.
The Park Street Playground is open during daylight hours and is on the corner of Park Street and School Street across from the town ballfields and next to the MDI YMCA.