Project Playground Committee honored as Youth Day Grand Marshals

The Project Playground Committee includes, from left (top) Kathy Cowan, Mark Selleck, Whitney Vickrey, Kirsten Sellheim, Moyra Barsotti, Emarie VanGalio, Wade Cowan, Karlie Ocenasek, Cheryl Moore, Meika-Rae Ogando, Lisa Dennis and Candi Ochoa; (bottom) Mona Biasi, Sonya Godinez, Andrea Coker and Phoebe Girimonte. The photo was taken after the project was completed on Oct. 15, 2017. Photo by Bianca Cox

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They’re either going to need a very large convertible or several of them to accommodate this year’s Youth Day Grand Marshal. Or, more correctly, Marshals. Chosen for the honor this year was the entire Project Playground Committee, which worked tirelessly for almost two years to fund and reconstruct the City Park playground.

The completely funded project, with money to spare, was finished in October 2017, and flocks of children and community members were on hand to see the ribbon cutting and be amongst the first to play on the structure, which replaced the dilapidated old wooden structure at the park. This will be the first Youth Day for the new structure, which is now a centerpiece for both the park and the community.

Youth Day Parade Chairman Emeritus, Mike Sebastian notes that selecting a playground committee has a historical angle.

“We chose the Project Playground Committee as Grand Marshals for their tireless dedication to the youth of our city,” says Sebastian. “Their efforts produced one of the finest playgrounds in the western valley and gave our kids a place to play and be proud of.

“The original Playground Committee was named honorary Grand Marshals back in 1991 so we saw fit to name this year’s committee as Grand Marshals.”

Another historical link between the original committee and the new one is that many of the volunteers are children of the original volunteers and some even helped on the original project.

While many served on the committee, including Kathy Cowan, Mark Selleck, Whitney Vickrey, Kirsten Sellheim, Moyra Barsotti, Emarie VanGalio, Wade Cowan, Karlie Ocenasek, Cheryl Moore, Meika-Rae Ogando, Lisa Dennis, Candi Ochoa, Mona Biasi, Sonya Godinez, Andrea Coker and Phoebe Girimonte, it was VanGalio and Barsotti who were the driving forces behind the entire project, from start to finish. Besides the core committee, hundreds of community members turned out during “Build Week” to do everything from sand and stain boards, to pound nails and dig post holes.

VanGalio says that she and Barsotti appreciate being chosen for this year’s Youth Day Grand Marshals.

“We are honored to be selected as this year’s Grand Marshals. Raising the funds and rebuilding our playground was a huge undertaking and quite the accomplishment. It’s something that all of us are extremely proud to be a part of. It is an honor and privilege to have the entire steering committee celebrated for our hard work and dedication.”

She adds that she hopes that the success of both the fundraising and construction effort will be an inspiration for others to get involved in serving the community, particularly young people.

If there is one thing we wish our youth take away from this project, it’s that no matter who you are, what you do, or where you live, you have the ability to do amazing things. Use your talents, whatever they may be, and get involved. The greatest gift we can give others is our time.”

The committee will be formally honored at Youth Day Opening Ceremonies, which will take place on Friday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the Rotary Park gazebo. This year’s Youth Day Grand Marshals will lead the Youth Day Main Parade, which will roll down Main Street beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, at 10 a.m.





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