When she was in third grade, Rachel Ritchie took her dream of equal play for everyone and, after five years, turned it into a reality with the August 2017 completion of Rachel’s Fun for Everyone Playground at Optimist Park in Vine Grove.
Now, nearly two years later, a new project to further fun for everyone is in her sights. Ritchie is interested in installing a splash pad at Optimist Park.
Ritchie said it’s an idea she has been considering for a while. So when Mayor Pam Ogden recently approached her about it, Ritchie “jumped on doing it right away.”
No details have been hashed out yet, but Ritchie said there will be a meeting in the upcoming weeks with a splash pad company, the city engineer, Ogden and a few others to get the layout and some pricing.
“We’re in the very beginning stages,” she said, noting they want to get the community involved early. “This will be for the community, a community splash pad, so we wanted to make sure they were involved from the beginning.”
To find out about fundraisers or upcoming events, Ritchie said people can go to the Rachel’s Fun for Everyone Project Facebook page or the website at www.rachelsfunforeveryoneproject.com. The playground cost around $100,000.
“We’re excited to have the community involvement again. We’re excited to see what this will bring to our community,” she said.
Ogden said installing the splash pad will be a bit of a process in regard to water lines and different things, but that will be where the city comes into play. She said city engineer Bob Woosley already has been out to the area scoping out the best possible location for the pad.
Ritchie, who is a big proponent of play and its benefits, said she thinks a splash pad in Vine Grove will not only bring more play to the community, but also an aspect of diversity as people may travel from other cities to use the new addition.
“Rachel’s playground has already brought people to Optimist Park,” Ogden said. “My purpose behind this is to bring people to Vine Grove.”
Whether it’s to go to the park, shop or get gas, Ogden said she wants people who visit to connect Vine Grove to something positive.
“That is why I am pretty excited,” she said.
Ritchie said the splash pad, like the playground, will be handicap accessible.
“So that way, just like our playground, it is fun for everyone,” she said Tuesday while sitting on a bench in front of the playground, where several children were playing.
“Every time we come down here, you see kids and parents on the playground and that is what it is all about, is the smiles and the laughter that we hear, and I think the splash pad will only add to that,” she said.