OTTUMWA — The new playground at Wildwood Park started with an email, of all things, at least to hear Matt Rose tell it.
It was hard to see the finished product on Wednesday, as 40 volunteers slogged around a muddy work site. But by late Friday, the city will have a massive new playground.
Rose was right in the middle of the mud as the work neared midday, but it didn’t take much to provoke a grin as wide as it could go. “There’s a whole playground that’s going to go in here,” he said. “Swings and slides, things to climb on.”
This is one of 10 such projects nationally being given a boost by Dr. Pepper, where Rose is a manager. That’s where the email comes in. Rose knew about the company’s projects in local communities and thought Ottumwa might be a good fit. He asked what was needed and then sent corporate offices an email.
Back in April or May he got a response. “I got a call from corporate on a Friday and they told me, ‘Matt, you’re going to have a good day.’”
Organizations from throughout Ottumwa came together to make Wednesday’s prep work happen. Job Corps sent students. City employees were on hand as well. Several businesses chipped in to make sure people had food to eat. On Friday, they’re expecting 200 volunteers for “Build Day,” a one-day push to get the playground completed.
Brenna Hull isn’t one of the Ottumwa volunteers. She’s a project manager with Kaboom, a national nonprofit that works to build safe places for children to play. She was almost as excited as Rose.
“It’s just mud right now,” she said, “but at the end of the day Friday it will be a brand-new, 3,000-square-foot playground.