The father-son duo were among the families visiting the new play space in Mulligan’s Hollow on Thursday, following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
After more than a year of planning, designing and building, the new inclusive play area replaced the nearly 30-year-old structure.
“We love it,” Tim Kuiper said. “We’ve needed this for a long time.”
There weren’t many playgrounds that provided full access and allowed Zeke the opportunity to play with other children, his father said.
During the ceremony, Grand Haven Mayor Geri McCaleb said she’s appreciative of the community and Reimagine Project co-chairpersons Chris and Kristi Streng.
“This is so gratifying,” McCaleb said. “Every time you have a cause, the people of Grand Haven, and the surrounding communities, everyone shows up.”
Last fall, more than 100 local students designed the new play space, and professionals Leathers & Associates turned those concepts into the final design. For several months, individuals and businesses donated toward the $500,000 fundraiser goal. With the help of a matching $50,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), the Reimagine Project achieved that goal in July.
MEDC representative Lindsay Viviano said the Grand Haven project is one of her favorites.
“Not only did you crowd-fund for it, but you designed it and you built it on top of it all, so this is truly a community project,” she said.
Thousands of volunteers turned the plans into a reality during last month’s “Build Week.”
Chris Streng thanked the volunteers and steering committee for their efforts. And before children played on the new structures, he encouraged them to find a way to give their time, talent and treasures in everything they do.
“Let your imagination go wild,” Streng said. “Think, never give up — and when you find yourself in turmoil or anxiety, know that you have a community that loves you and cares for you.”
Christian Bloemers said he couldn’t believe how it all looked. When he volunteered on the first day of “Build Week,” the posts for the structure were just being put into place.
Although Ansley Bloemers, 4, said she was sad to see the old structure gone, she likes everything about the new one.
“To see it be accessible to everyone warms the heart,” said her mom, Kaylie Bloemers.