The newly reopened Rotary Park.

“It was really great and epic.”

Those are the apt words Paul Davis, Marathon’s Director of Parks and Recreation, used to describe the colossal community effort that culminated on August 20 with the reopening of Marathon’s Rotary Park.

The $500,000 project was developed by New York-based company Play By Design, which worked with real “design experts” in the classrooms of Stanley Switlik Elementary School to create the vision of the reinvented place to play.

From there, a massive volunteer effort led by Marathon Parks and Recreation staff saw hundreds of local volunteers come together for two weeks in late June to bring the vision to life. Their efforts were supported by dozens of community organizations and businesses that donated building materials, tools, equipment rentals, food and, most importantly, time for construction.

“There’s monetary value to this structure, and then there’s the value of all the time and energy that people put into it,” City Manager George Garrett said. “We are enjoying every moment of this.”

“I helped build this!” one little one excitedly said to her mother upon hearing Garrett’s comments. “I helped build this park!”

With two large main structures constructed from durable composite materials, the park also includes many features accessible to small children or those with disabilities, a climbing apparatus, monkey bars, slides, swings and an in-ground carousel – a massive hit at the opening.

“When things are meant to happen, there are things that just can’t stand in the way,” Davis said. “Those of you who volunteered and worked, you all know how difficult it was. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, to be honest with you, but it’s worth it.

Photos by ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

IN NUMBERS
21 – Companies whose employees have given their time to help build
30 – Local restaurants that served meals to volunteers three times a day
$25,000 and over – Total value of donated playground equipment
$30,000 or more – Equipment and building materials donated
60 – Custom bricks sold
640 – Meters of mulch used to fill the playground
1,629 – Pieces of plastic lumber used to build structures
2,500 – Total volunteer hours to build the park
75 – Custom stakes sold
297 – Holes dug by Selevel General Contractors to secure major structural members