SPORTS FLASHBACK 1980: All work, no play for this volunteer


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After almost getting stuck in one of the tires, making it to the third ring of the monkey swing, and having the cable ride bog down halfway to the other set of poles, somebody kindly pointed out that this stuff was designed for kids.

What a waste of a weekend! Here I spent Friday evening rolling truck tires through the mud across about two acres of lawn to get them to where they should have been dropped in the first place.

Then Saturday, I had to get up at some ridiculous hour (9 a.m.) to go and bolt these tires together to make some kind of playground structure. Then when it’s all finished, they won’t even let me play on them.

Two dozen members of the Steinbach Knights of Columbus put together the playground structures at largest of six community tire parks at the new Steinbach park. In all, over 100 volunteers worked two days to complete the $20,000 project, funded by the provincial government and the Town of Steinbach. (Carillon Archives)

The reason I decided to help out at the Town Park rather than the community playground across the street from my place was that I was sure to get a shot at this new equipment before the kids discovered it. No such luck.

Barely was the last shovelful of sand shovelled and the last bolt bolted, before a bunch of kids appeared out of nowhere to try out their playground.

Earl Toews at Poplar Crescent wasn’t even that lucky. He had company on the platform of his cable ride before the planks were even nailed on. “Uncle Earl” managed to chase the kids off long enough to finish the project, but then there was no stopping them.

Sunday afternoon they were back, in the rain … along with friends.

I’ve almost changed my mind about tire parks. I still wish they would look a little better, but early indications are that they are going to help keep the kids from playing on the street.

That’s good enough for me, and I think we can consider the money well spent.

In all, approximately 100 volunteers braved the rain and mud to build six “tire playgrounds” in Steinbach last weekend.

Swings, “mountains”, tunnels, climbing apparatus and balancing structures now grace the new Town Park and community parks on Southwood, Giesbrecht, Walnut, Meadows and Second-and-Third Street.

Recreation director Harry Fehr said the town had been working on a playground concept for six years that would involve the community and kids.

Fehr says the town has also been “looking at the most mileage for its money” and decided to accept a promotional offer from the Calgary-based firm, Gerald A. Bruce Community Development Consultants.

The firm usually charges an average of $3,900 per playground for design work, travelling expenses and hardware for their tire park designs. Eager to promote their ideas in Manitoba, the company agreed to do all six parks for $9,400. An additional $7,600 was spent on equipment rental, salaries of town employees, freight, telephone poles, chains, ropes and other small hardware.

Fehr says $3,000 for volunteer labor time (at three dollars per hour) is included in the $20,000 total, which will be split between the provincial government and the town.

“In every park we had to chase kids off before the equipment was even up. It was incredible. We put up fireman poles that had to be cemented in. The kids were on them before the cement hardened. We’ll have to redo them.”

“As soon as the weather breaks, the town will be cleaning up the parks, levelling ruts made by heavy equipment, bringing in fresh dirt, and so on.”

Town councillor George Neufeld worked on every playground and finds the tire playgrounds “unique and interesting.”

“I went around and surveyed the children off the cuff, asking them which piece of equipment was their favorite. The smaller children said the tires were fun to climb on; the bigger ones chose the cube structures with the bridges. All children liked the cable rides.”

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