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Pelham Bay Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sweet Improvements At Sweetgum Playground


photo by Daniel Avila

On June 16, Parks & Recreation cut the ribbon on the newly named and renovated Sweetgum Playground in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe was joined by State Senator Jeffrey Klein, Council Member James Vacca, Assembly Member Michael Benedetto, Parks Committee Chair of Community Board 10 Virginia Gallagher, Bronx Borough Commissioner Hector M. Aponte, Pelham Bay Park Administrator Margot Perron, and kindergarten students from P.S. 71.

The beautiful Sweetgum Playground, formerly known as Playground Number Two, now boasts many new features including play equipment, a spray shower, a painted games area, benches, fencing and safety surfacing. The playground also benefits from improved landscaping, which softens the perimeter of the grounds and provides extra shade. These improvements, which cost approximately $250,000, were made possible through Mayoral funds.

"We are delighted to celebrate the opening of this beautiful new playground," said Commissioner Benepe. "It is wonderful to see a playground, which opened in the 1930s, be transformed into a wonderful modern space for children to enjoy today."

Once the ribbon was cut it was clear how much happiness the renovations to the Sweetgum Playground would bring. The schoolchildren, wasted no time in enjoying the swings, slides and other features of the new play sets. They were soon joined by Commissioner Benepe and many other park visitors. Later, the spray shower was turned on, which attracted even more visitors to Sweetgum Playground.

Sweetgum Playground is especially notable because of the two towering Sweetgum trees located within the Playground’s gates. The trees can be identified by their star-shaped leaves and prickly hanging fruits or "gumballs." The trees are important to the history of Pelham Bay Park, as the site was once inhabited by the Siwanoy Native Americans. The Siwanoy used to use the balsamic sap that oozed from the "gumballs" as chewing gum and for medicinal purposes.

Today the beautiful trees provide pleasant shade for children who play in the brand new playground. Gummy Bears and pieces of Bubble Gum were handed out to all attendees in honor of the trees that inspired the Playground’s new name.

Pelham Bay Park is New York City’s largest park, with 2,765 acres of land. It includes attractions such as Orchard Beach, bridal trails, and the Pelham and Split Rock Golf Courses. The new Sweetgum Playground is a wonderful addition, offering safety and intimacy within this sprawling park.

Written by Mariel Bronen

 

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"Happiness comes when your work and words

are of benefit to yourself and others."

 

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha

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