By Kathie Bowen
Atlantic News, Thursday, July 30, 1996
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.
HAMPTON -- Described as a "celebration of community spirit," Kids' Kingdom was officially handed over to the Hampton Parks and Recreation Department last Tuesday amidst an early evening downpour and rain soaked smiles. Under tents festooned with balloons, Judy Ward and Ellen Galvin, co-chairs of the Kids' Kingdom committee, welcomed Hampton residents.
Despite the rain, parking lots at Eaton Park and Tuck Field overflowed into the street with cars. Umbrellas dotted the grass surrounding the two canopies that were filled to capacity.
"We owe a special thank you to Larry from Larry's canopy," Judy Ward said, explaining that the second canopy had been set up only minutes before the dedication began.
After the welcome, emotions ran high as Kids' Kingdom was dedicated posthumously to Mike Robidas, an active member of the Hampton community who was committed to the completion of Kids' Kingdom. Judy Ward and Ellen Galvin were presented with framed pictures of the completed play area, along with the grateful thanks of the community for working so diligently to make Kids' Kingdom a reality. Committee members took turns speaking of their involvement in the project and thanking the people, organizations and companies who have made the play area a reality.
Laughter greeted the inevitable jokes about "inclement weather," a not-so-welcome "volunteer" at many of the events and fund-raisers this past year. (Party with a Pelican, Breakfast with Santa, the actual building of the play area and several other yard sales had all seen inclement weather.) It was deemed appropriate by several members of the audience that rain "blessed" the official dedication of Kids' Kingdom.
Certificates were awarded to those responsible for such fund-raisers as "Most Lucrative"- Sacred Heart Penny Sale by Gerry Wilber and Ellen DeCosta; "Most Original" - Country Western Dancing by Gail Paul and Kathy Payne; and "Most Well Intentioned," the Munsey Drive yard sale, postponed because of rain.
Finally, after many contributors were all thanked, the audience was invited across the play area to the new Kids' Kingdom Sign. Co-chairs Judy Ward and Ellen Galvin, acting Town Manager Tom Gillick and Dyanna Lassorde, Hampton's Recreation Director, unveiled the list of all the individuals who had donated approximately $15,000 toward the $86,000 playground.
Total estimates of donated funds, equipment, labor, and supplies probably topped $100,000, according to Ward. And the work was not quite done. Donations are still being accepted to help in the landscaping of the play area. Trash cans, picnic tables and bike racks will be in place within a week.
Everyone was invited back under the tent to enjoy coffee and snacks and reminisce about the past year's accomplishment that proved community spirit is alive and well in Hampton.