Issue date: 2/10/04
Bellingham resident Ryan Stiles, known for his performances in "The Drew Carey Show" and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", and seven other comedians performed a sold-out improvisational show Friday at the Mount Baker Theatre in a fundraiser for Larrabee Elementary School.
The show raised approximately $30,000 of the $35,000 needed for a new playground, playground capitol committee chairwoman Kate Mauro said.
Stiles, Dave Mauro, Randy Dixon, Rich Elwood, Sheila Goldsmith, Dave Lyon, Sean Masterson and Leslie Umberger performed for free so the show's proceeds would help finance the playground.
"It's a lousy playground," said Dave Mauro, a Bellingham comedian and Kate Mauro's husband. "I wouldn't play at it, and I'm a child."
Kate Mauro said the playground is mainly asphalt with basketball hoops, tetherball and a four-square area. She said many children skin their knees. The committee wants to offer children more play equipment, she said.
"We've just had a great success," Kate Mauro said. "The community has been incredibly supportive."
Larrabee Elementary School Principal Tom Venable said the playground is "L"-shaped, so the playground monitor has to stand in one spot to see all the children. The new design will bring the play area to one centralized location to make monitoring easier.
Kate Mauro said the new playground will be approximately 33 feet by 60 feet with an 8-foot safety buffer. The committee plans to include chin-up bars, climbing walls, fire poles, a trapeze and possibly a slider bar, she said.
The committee will avoid walkways and bridges that do not promote active play, she said.
"We're trying to include play equipment that is really physical - nothing passive," Kate Mauro said.
The school, located at 18th Street, was built in 1890 and reconstructed in 1920. Approximately 200 students attend the school, Venable said.
Plans to rebuild the playground began approximately five years ago when the school's site council met with children and parents to discuss their visions for the playground, Venable said.
Groundwork for reconstruction began this past summer when the Parent Teacher Association paid Wilder Construction to cut and remove a chunk of asphalt at a discounted price, Venable said.
DeWildes Nurseries Inc. provided topsoil and sod, but parents and neighbors volunteered labor, he said. This step of the project will cost approximately $10,000, he said.
Work crews removed approximately 13,000 square feet of asphalt for a soccer field, Kate Mauro said. More than 50 people helped during a two-day period to cut and roll out the sod, Venable said.
"The nice thing is that it has really opened a play environment for families on the south side that wouldn't otherwise have a place to play," Venable said.