The combined efforts of community members, parents and business leaders came together on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the newly remodeled Jay City Park.

The celebration, which included a free swim at the city pool, as well as face painting and food, was the culmination of several months of work.

Led by Jay Mayor Les Newkirk and City Clerk Camrine Thompson, city officials pledged $40,000 to revamp the city's playground.

Of those funds, more than $11,000 came from individuals, families and business and community leaders.

For 8-year-old Gabby Cunningham, the changes mean "there's so much more to play with."

"I love the spinning thing," Cunningham said with a smile. "It's just fun and I like to get dizzy.

"Dizzy is the best thing in the world."

She also likes the new teeter-totter, because it's designed not to "bump off" riders.

"I hate getting bumped off," she said. 

Ultimately, Cunningham said, the new equipment is "more colorful" and the ground cover installed by park officials is "much more comfortable" than the previous rocks.

Barbara Teel, Cunningham's grandmother, agreed with her assessment.

"I'm just so excited," Teel said. "This is a place where people can bring their kids. It's a nice clean environment and very kid friendly."

Like Cunningham, Eli Spencer, 6, and Zackery Keener, 8, like the "spinning thing" and the teeter-totter.

Spencer joked that he wanted to see if the teeter-totter could help him "fly off" into space, breaking out into a chorus of "I believe I can fly" at the idea.

For Thompson, the new equipment is a breath of fresh air for her hometown.

"There hasn't been a day that's gone by, since it's been installed that I haven't driven by and saw cars here," Thompson said. "It's nice to give kids something safe, where they can get exercise. 

"This is a nice place where people can take their kids to play, and to play with them."

About the changes

The playground equipment, approved during the May 2018 city council meeting, includes one big playground unit for children ages 6 to 12, and a smaller unit designed for children 2 to 5, as well as an assortment of swings and teeter totters.

It replaced a wooden structure, which city officials worried was growing unsafe for children's use.

While Thompson reached her goal of raising more than $10,000 for the equipment, she continues to take sponsorships for future endevors.

She hopes the next addition to the park will include a swing designed for children in wheelchairs.

The sponsorship levels, set in the initial fundraising efforts range from $100 to $1,000.

For more information, or to provide for a sponsorship, persons interested may contact Thompson at 918-253-4148 or 918-705-1898. Additional information may be found at the Jay City Hall between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.