(Posted Aug. 31, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
It’s official! On Aug. 28, volunteers, city officials, and plenty of enthusiastic children took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new playground equipment at London’s Merri Mac Park.
The new recreational amenity is the result of several people and groups coming together for the common good. Merri Mac Park Miracle, a new non-profit group, spearheaded the efforts, working in conjunction with the city.
“It’s awesome!” declared Marilyn Hall, the group’s treasurer. “The most fabulous thing about it all was the support of the community.”
Early last year, Merri Mac Park Miracle members started holding fundraisers. The London Marathon and Half-Marathon was one of the first events to raise money for the park improvements. The group has since held wiffleball tournaments, raffles, and cornhole tournaments to raise funds. They also have solicited cash donations from friends, small businesses, local civic organizations and churches.
“We raised over $30,000 in less than eight months just by reaching out to people we knew. The biggest single donation we got was $2,500. We had hundreds of smaller donations,” said Hall, adding that many others donated supplies and services.
Merri Mac Park Miracle contributed $15,000 of those funds toward the purchase of the new playground equipment. The city of London covered the other $80,000.
Installation came in the form of a “community build” in July. Volunteers, employees with the city street department, and professionals with the equipment company worked together to erect a zip line, ring fling, four-seat seesaw, spin ride, basketball drop shot, and a 20-foot tall play tower with slides and climbing options. The finishing touches were completed in August.
In addition to the equipment installation, Merri Mac Park Miracle members paid to have the existing basketball court resealed and striped. Volunteers painted the shelter house and sanded the floor, painted the picnic tables, and refurbished the existing swing set. The city installed surveillance cameras at the playground and surrounding area.
“I’m proud of the Merri Mac Park Miracle committee and the community for putting this together and fundraising to bring activities for the kids,” said Amy Rees, executive assistant to the city administration.
These improvements are just the beginning, Hall said. The committee is in it for the long haul and hopes others will come aboard.
“Phase I was just a small part of making a change in our community and making Merri Mac Park a part of London as a whole, not just a part of the south end of town,” Hall said.
The park’s 100 acres are just waiting to be utilized for recreation purposes for the entire community, she continued. The committee would like to see at least eight ball diamonds installed to meet the needs of the many youths who play travel baseball, AAU ball, and fast-pitch softball.
“Right now, they all have to go somewhere else to practice or host a tournament,” Hall said.
To make the ball diamonds happen, the group needs to put together a concept plan and continue to fundraise. The next step is to approach corporate donors, Hall said.
Anyone who would like to help the Merri Mac Park Miracle committee with their efforts is welcome to attend a meeting. The group typically meets monthly. For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page, “Merri Mac Park Miracle,” or send email to email@example.com.
“We need people to make a commitment to the children and our city. It’s not a short-term thing. We’re doing this as a legacy to our children and our children’s children. We want to make it a place that all of London is proud of,” Hall said.
Donations can be made out to “Merri Mac Park Miracle” and mailed to P.O. Box 674, London, OH 43140. The group is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.