ST. PETERSBURG — Their names were Keymaun, Desmon, D'andre, Mary, Marquez and Destine — just a few of the 25 kids from the Childs Park area who were asked eight weeks ago to put crayon to paper and design the playground of their dreams.
One boy, organizers said, excitedly described his plan: a 10-foot-high slide slanting at exactly 45 degrees. The bottom, he said, should be 3 feet off the ground so you could fly through the air and come down on a patch of spongelike material.
The dream never materialized, but something just as fun popped out of the ground Saturday at Trailhead Park, 3800 Fairfield Ave. S. About 400 volunteers helped get closer to Mayor Rick Baker's goal of having a playground within a half mile of every child in the city by 2010.
According to the city, the Childs Park area has the highest concentration of children in Pinellas County, with about 30 percent of the population under the age of 18.
The new playground has three towers with slides sprouting from each, all of it on a giant bed of mulch. It also has swings and places to climb and play hopscotch, four square and Twister.
The color scheme: red, yellow and blue, a bright contrast to the oaks, palm trees and pines that ring the park.
The project was spearheaded by Kaboom, a nonprofit group whose goal is to build play spaces for kids across the nation.
The group sponsored a similar event in Tampa on Saturday. More than 200 volunteers helped build a playground at the Nick Capitano Boys & Girls Club, 218 E Kay St.
In St. Petersburg, the Trailhead Park project was the 210th playground this year for Kaboom and the 1,567th in its 14-year history.
"We never build the same playground twice," said Christine Jackson, a Kaboom project manager.
The group, working with the city and a corporate sponsor, Kool-Aid, collected the designs of 25 neighborhood kids and gave them to a playground vendor, who developed three proposals.
The kids were asked to decide and they unanimously chose the three-tower design, which went up in about six hours Saturday. The playground cost about $75,000, which includes related structures such as benches, signs and paths.
The philosophy at Kaboom is that unstructured play teaches kids to think, plan, negotiate and respect one another.
"Children that play do better in school, they're healthier and they play better as adults," Jackson said.