Organizers who are pushing for the fundraising and re-building of Joey's Park in Belmont will host a "then-and-now" themed celebration at the park on Saturday, May 18, also known locally as Belmont Town Day.
The event, which runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., will feature food, music, playful activities, and publicizing the group's online auction launch and fundraising efforts as attendees commemorate the 24 years of the park's existence, said Diane Miller, a local resident helping to organize the event.
Organizers show photos of generations of Belmont kids playing there, display the pictures drawn by Belmont students showing their ideas for the new park, and invite guests to sign a special memory book.
Organizers said they will also share news about a Joey's Park time capsule, which was buried somewhere on the grounds in 1989 and has yet to be found.
“I really don’t remember much about it other than we put one under there somewhere,” said Louise Dohanian, who co-chaired building the park in 1989. “As to what’s in it, it will be a surprise to all of us."
The park, built 24 years ago in the memory of a local boy who died at 12 years old from cystic fibrosis, closed briefly in 2011 after a safety review raised concerns, and reopened on a temporary basis only after some play equipment was removed.
Now, community members are using funds that they have been raising to renovate the playground. The brand new facility was designed by students at the elementary school Joey attended, and is being constructed by Belmont residents in an old-fashioned community barn-raising.
The total project cost was estimated around $380,000, and locals have raised about $226,000 as of the end of April, and have received a Town Meeting-approved $100,000 in Community Preservation Act grants this month.
"It’s been a lot of work from an amazing group of dedicated volunteers, and we are confident that we’ll reach our goal," Miller said in an email.
The current playground will be demolished in August, and a community build has been slated for October 9 through October 14, Miller said.
"Initially we contemplated a September build, but we quickly realized that it would be challenging and chaotic to time this with the back-to-school rush and that it would make more sense to allow families to get settled in to the school routine before embarking on this massive undertaking," she said.
For more information on the park and playground, visit joeyspark.org.