“In all this world there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child.” ~L. Frank Baum
Playgrounds are places of joy, adventure, and imagination, where children create memories to carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Friends of Virgin Islands National Park worked with the National Park Service and the community to rebuild the playground in front of the Park Visitor Center that was damaged in the 2017 hurricanes. The playground and the adjacent ball field are managed by the Virgin Islands Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation under a special use permit. Much of the open play space for children in Cruz Bay was lost as a result of the hurricanes making the reconstruction and completion of the playground even more important!
This is a multi-phase project so every donation makes a difference! Thanks to a wonderful and generous gift from Dr. Steven and Jann Paul of $350,000, as well as other donations from over 100 individuals and businesses the first phase was completed in March 2023 and includes demolition, grading and ground surface preparation, and playground equipment purchase and installation.
The second phase of the project that still requires funding will include landscaping, shade structures, a replica of the original customs house, additional seating, and a restroom renovation.
We feel blessed to have the opportunity to build a future for our children and provide a safe space to play full of wonder and exploration!
A Child's Gateway to Virgin Islands National Park
The playground is a wonderful location for integrating natural landscapes, cultural history, community meeting areas, and play structures with multiple opportunities for learning because of its location and established use as a play area for island youth as well as a community meeting spot. Plans include a landscape of shade-bearing native plants, a playhouse inspired by the past and modeled after the first VINP ranger station; and a range of equipment like swings and slides.
PLAYING IS LEARNING
The playground equipment list includes a large playhouse (6-12 years old), a small playhouse (0-5 years old), a large swing set, a Supernova rotating balancing ring, a toddler swing set carousel, a Ranger Station replica, and interpretative signage.
PLANTING A FUTURE
Trees and plants selected for the playground are native and shade bearing. They will be part of a native plant garden with interpretive signage along pathways and in the playground. Our thanks to Eleanor Gibney who has been propagating native plants alongside our trail crew, and our thanks to Alfredo's Landscaping who will help with planting.
Plants selected include: Tabebuia Heterophylla (Pink cedar), Coccoloba Uvifera (Sea grape), Bucida Buceras (Gre Gre), Pimenta Racemosa (Bay Rum), Cordia Sebestena (Cordia), Capparis Cynophallophora (Jamaican caper), Conocarpus Erectus (Buttonwood), Guaiacum Officinale (Lignum Vitae), and Grass (Zoysia).