Help needed for Memorial Day splash

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 18, 2010

Memorial Day is always a historic event in Ironton and Lawrence County.

If the Friends of Ironton have their way, this year will be one that children remember long after the parade has ended and their youth has faded into adulthood.

The grassroots civic organization is working hard to make a big splash — literally.

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That is what they are hoping for if work can be completed on its sprayground project on a vacant 1,200-square-foot parcel of land at the corner of Second and Vernon streets.

Spraygrounds are playgrounds with water jets and enhancements.

They are designed to be safe play areas for all ages where water is sprayed from structures or ground sprays and then drained away before it can accumulate.

Unlike a pool, they create an environment that children of all ages and abilities can enjoy.

Work is progressing but a variety of issues — including manpower, funding and construction hurdles — have put the project a little behind schedule.

But the Friends are pushing hard to make their target date and hope the community will rally around the project as it comes down the home stretch.

“Time is of the essence. We are really shooting to have this completed by Memorial Day. We need both time and money to meet this deadline,” Rick Jansen, one of the Friends founders and a key volunteer, said as he joked that he had aged 15 years on this project.

“The only thing that keeps me going is the satisfaction that all the kids from Tri-State will have many great memories from this place.”

The goal is still to host a grand opening ceremony 30 minutes after the conclusion of the parade.

This final push on completion will require volunteers and generous support.

Several fundraising projects are either in the works or ongoing.

“The Ironton Eagles have stepped up and made a commitment to help us get this done,” Jansen said. “They are going to host a fundraiser on May 22, with the proceeds going to the sprayground. This is going to be a big help.”

Jim Weber, secretary of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Ironton Aerie No. 895, said this is important for the community and that no organization can do it alone.

“If we all get behind this project and push the wagon in the same direction our kids will be getting wet on Memorial Day,” Weber wrote in his donation letter.

Also, the Friends are still selling commemorative bricks that will be incorporated into the sprayground. Bricks can be engraved with a name or short phrase and serve as a lasting memorial to the giver, the recipient or someone’s civic pride.

Hopefully, the community will rally around these fundraisers and Memorial Day will end with a wet, splashing good time.

The Friends of Ironton have always dreamed big, so no one should fault them if they need a a few more dreamers to make this project become reality.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at