After nine months of closure, the Highland Park Super Playground has reopened!
On August 24th, a grand reopening celebration was hosted by the Highland Park Community Council along with the City of Pittsburgh. Hundreds of neighbors and families gathered to enjoy a beautiful first day of play. The event kicked off with an official ribbon-cutting with words from Andrea Ketzel (the project lead for the new playground from the City of Pittsburgh), Monica Watt (longtime Super-Playground caretaker and HPCC playground committee member), Marsha Kolbe and Roseanne Levine (the two Highland Park prior-residents who led the creation of the original Super Playground), as well as Mayor Ed Gainey and Highland Park city councilperson Deb Gross.
The weather was gorgeous for the opening and the new playground glowed under the sun, filled with kids climbing, running, swinging and laughing. A large, playful balloon arch and balloon bouquets added to the festive view, contributed by Von Walter + FUNKballoon. Under the Maple Grove shelter, kids enjoyed free treats from Vinnie’s Shaved Ice, as well as face painting and temporary tattoos from artists with PGH Party Creations, all sponsored by the Highland Park Community Council.
The new playground retains the wooden, natural-play feel of the original Super Playground, a key expressed desire of the community. It also has some new elements including individual and group bouncers, a scramble area with wooden stumps, and both large and small boat play structures. The ground around the playground is now squishy, safe for running (or falling!) and easy to navigate with a stroller or wheelchair. There are more varieties of swings, including a large-spider swing that can hold multiple people, two double swings that kids and adults can ride together, and two toddler swings. Surrounding the perimeter of the new playground are several picnic tables and a number of custom wood benches made from reclaimed wood – some of which came from the older trees around the playground which had to be removed due to their condition when construction began.
At the front of the playground glimmers the new community garden mosaic sign, created in partnership with the Pittsburgh Glass Center. The sign reads “Highland Park Super Playground” in mirrored letters surrounded by colorful flowers made by community members. If you or a loved one joined us for the mosaic flower-making events earlier this summer, you can find your flower on the online mosaic guide. There, you’ll also find photo albums of the mosaic-making, playground construction and the grand opening, as well as a link to purchase a special commemorative Highland Park flower mosaic kit from Pittsburgh Glass Center to make and keep at home.
Additional changes to the playground are coming this fall. Over 40 new trees will be planted in and around the playground once the weather is more consistently cool. Pittsburgh Glass Center will also be installing a dozen small “hidden mosaics” inspired by ideas submitted by kids and community members last year.
The large tunnel near the playground will continue to be under construction until next summer. Once that is complete, the road around the reservoir will open again to traffic. Over the next few years we also will hopefully be seeing improvement to the paths leading to and from the playground.
The HPCC would like to thank all the community members who provided input for the new playground design, online or during the multiple community design meetings. We’d also especially like to recognize our playground committee members, who spent the last two years working with the City of Pittsburgh to keep the community connected, involved, and informed about the redesign project: Sabrina Culyba, Mac Lynch, Betsy Rogerson and Monica Watt.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the new playground, we encourage you to swing on by!