Phase One of a new attraction at Winchester’s Memorial Park aims to be completed this Spring. The Laura Paslay Memorial Playground is expected to open in a ceremony on June 3rd, the anniversary of Laura’s death.
Paslay’s father, R.J. says that with the current fundraising that is being collected at the Winchester City Hall, the first phase of what he considers to be a long-term project still is short of needed funds in order to install the equipment.
“In order to do that, we have raised enough money to pay for the equipment itself. But there are installation expenses with some concrete and we need some mulch and some ground cloth, etc., the underground stuff we need to do. That requires additional investment and we need contributions to continue in that effort.”
The memorial playground will feature climbing equipment and large toys for children to play on that are aged 2-12 years old, a group that Laura taught as an Elementary and Pre-School teacher while she lived in Knoxville, Tennessee. R.J. Paslay personally chose and picked up the equipment in Indiana back in December.
Paslay, a long-time teacher in the North Greene School District, says that a former student of his wife and a classmate of Laura’s has started an online auction of items to raise money for the remaining two phases he has planned.
“And then I would like to see the project expand to include a little more equipment adjacent to the stuff we have already purchased. That’s on down the road a little bit, kind of in phase 2. Then in phase 3, I would like to enclose it somewhat for the safety of the kids that are playing and provide a comfortable spot for caretakers to sit and watch the kids play.”
Paslay says he hopes that the memorial playground will accompany the newly renovated pool and the park’s pavilion as a place for families to come together and enjoy. He says that while the playground equipment dedicated to his daughter is his singular focus, the ongoing renovation of the park by the city and the Winchester civic group is a part of a larger idea to make the city’s park a point of pride.
Paslay says that he and his wife could not have imagined the amount of support the community at large has provided.
“I just am overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of support that the community has been able to give us. And in this trying year- 2020 was a trying year for everyone, let alone our personal tragedy. The outpouring of support and love from the community has been nothing but positive and kind of an upbeat to this crappy year. I appreciate that so much. It’s made it, not easy, but more tolerable for us having that support.”
Additional donations can be sent to the Winchester City Hall in the care of the Laura Paslay Playground Fund. If you have further questions about the memorial playground, you can contact R.J. Paslay at 217-370-0177. Paslay says he hopes to have a dedication ceremony of the first phase on the June 3rd opening date.