Warm feelings all over: Bicentennial Playground opens under perfect conditions

Nicole Carey prepares to catch her son Skylar, 1, as brother, Caleb, 3, pushes him down the slide at Bicentennial Park in Dover on Tuesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — It’s not too often when the residents of Dover get to experience temperatures in the mid-70-degree range during the month of February.

So, naturally, parents and their children were all smiles at the city of Dover Parks and Recreation Division’s unveiling of the new Bicentennial Playground, which includes a slide and park bench, on Tuesday afternoon.

Kids ran around in circles and yelled with joy as they enjoyed the record-breaking temperatures outside and slid down the new slide, where its’ ribbon was cut at 451 George Washington Drive in Bicentennial Village.

Temperatures reached a high of 75 degrees on Tuesday, breaking the previous high of 70 degrees reached on the same date in Dover on Feb. 20, 1961.

“The weather’s fantastic,” said Sarah Craig, a resident of Bicentennial Village. “It’s good to get out in the yard and it feels like spring. You can open up the windows and it smells great and feels great.”

Margie Cyr, director of both the Dover Public Library and Parks and Recreation, said the new playground will be a great benefit to the neighborhood’s young children.

A mother walks with a stroller at Brecknock Park in Camden on Tuesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“I know I’m preaching to the choir when I tell you that for little kids, learning and joy and play is what leads to a healthy lifetime for them,” Ms. Cyr said. “This (park) came to you because of work done by your neighborhood, so we’d like to thank you for that.”

The new slide, designed for kids ages two to five, and adjacent bench in Bicentennial Village and other improvements at the park cost $15,000 and are part of the city’s Capital Improvement Project, according to Carolyn Courtney, of the Parks and Recreation Division.

Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen said the investment should be well worth it.

“A city that doesn’t have recreation is not a lot of fun to live in,” said Mayor Christiansen. “Along with members of city council, I want to make Dover a fun place to live, work and play.

“Our future is standing here today, so anything we can do for the young people of this city I’m all in favor of.”

The mayor was joined at the ceremony by City Councilmen Matt Lindell and Tanner Polce, who both represent the First District where the playground was built, as well as fellow Councilmen Fred Neil and David Anderson, City Planner Dave Hugg and Kent County Levy Court Commissioner Jim Hosfelt.

“This is another step forward in trying to get everybody more active in the community and hopefully this is just a start for this park,” Mr. Lindell said. “It’s a great step forward and it’s great when you have government and communities working together to make these things happen for our children.”

Bicentennial Village resident Nicole Carey got the ball rolling on the project more than a year ago with a post she made on social media.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen cuts the ribbon as Dover Library Director Margie Cyr stands with children at Bicentennial Park in Dover on Tuesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“It was just a simple question on our Bicentennial (Village) Facebook page,” she said. “We’ve lived in the neighborhood for two years and I was just wondering why there’s never been a playground for the kids?”

The 10 or so kids who were climbing all over their new slide appeared to be happy that she asked that question and the city answered.

“I think it’s nice to have a community park and a new city park that offers the opportunity for your kids to come out and play and be outside,” said Jocelyn Tice, a resident of the neighborhood.

Katie T., another Bicentennial resident, agreed.

“It’s great,” she said. “When we came here before it was nothing and my kids would just run around.

“My kids have been constantly coming here because they had the caution tape and they were like, ‘Can we go, can we go?’ Once it was open they were so excited. The only thing we would also love is to get some swings here.”

Councilman Polce said the park just makes sense.

“Parks, to me, is a common sense, quality of life element,” he said. “This is one of our largest communities in the First District. Now we’ve got to do more for the older folks.”

As for that weather, the springtime-like conditions should continue today as temperatures in Dover are expected to reach 74 degrees, yet another record-breaking day.

It was a far cry from last Saturday, when an inch or so of snow fell on the city.

“If you’re not happy with the weather conditions in Dover, just wait an hour or two, they’ll change,” Mayor Christiansen often says.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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