Except for school, there hasn’t been a larger turnout of area children at one place and at one time in Bryan since 1994.
For about four hours on Saturday, hundreds of Bryan’s youth and their parents gathered at Imagination Station to mark the 25th anniversary of the massive wooden play structure.
In 1994, the community rallied behind construction of the structure that urged children to climb, swing, explore and use their imagination in play. The playground cost $125,000 to build, and was constructed between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2, 1994, through the efforts of volunteers.
Connie Tipton was lead organizer on the project, and on Saturday she was pleased to see that many of those involved in planning, fundraising and construction had returned to the site to celebrate the station.
“I wanted people to come out and have a good time and make a special effort to realize how much effort went into this playground and how those of us who were a part of this are here today to reminisce,” said Tipton. “It was an emotional thing, it wasn’t just hammer and nails, the community spirit was just palpable when we were together building it. And they are still here today in honor of that moment, because they all remember it.”
Tipton, from a previous article in The Bryan Times, estimated that as many as 3,000 people participated in the planning, fundraising and construction of Imagination Station. People volunteered their time and individuals and businesses pitched in with financial support for the project. School children collected thousands upon thousands of pennies to contribute to the effort.
On Saturday, much of the effort was remembered as Tipton opened a time capsule that was buried on the grounds in 1994. She informed those in attendance that the city parks and recreation department had dug for the time capsule three times before eventually finding it.
However, time and environment weren’t kind to the capsule — water got into it.
Tipton informed that the capsule’s content was removed and dried before being placed back into the capsule for Saturday’s presentation.
Buried inside the capsule 25 years ago, and presented on Saturday, were the following items:
• The 1994 blueprint of Imagination Station, drawn by the seventh and eighth grade classes of St. Patrick’s;
• A Power Ranger toy;
• A Cecil Fielder baseball card;
• A picture of the original Imagination Station committee;
• Photos of the president and vice president of the United States in 1994, Bill Clinton and Al Gore;
• Fliers and brochures about the project; Spangler Candy Company; a Welcome to Williams County brochure; Christmas Manor brochure; a parks and recreation department brochure; and Bryan Area Foundation brochure;
• A penny from 1994;
• A picture of the final class of Pulaski Elementary School, which closed in 1994;
• A picture of a fundraising event done by students, standing amongst thousands of pennies;
• A letter from Shirley Andricks and the superintendent of what was then called the Williams County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, thanking the committee for recognizing children with disabilities and having part of the playground accessible to them. “Of course today, the playground is totally accessible,” said Tipton.
• The handbook and instructions on how to build the playground;
• An unopened cassette tape and a mix tape of all the top hits of 1994;
• A copy of The Bryan Times with articles about Imagination Station;
• An article about Bryan being named one of the Best Small Towns in America;
• Newsletters about the Imagination Station project;
• An edition of Ohio Magazine, which featured an article about Bryan;
• A Bryan Times special publication about the city; and,
• Imagination Station T-shirts.
In addition to the anticipated time capsule opening, children were engaged throughout the event with pumpkin crafts, face painting, balloon animals, a bounce house, hay rides and a scavenger hunt to name only a few of the activities.
“This is everything I had hoped for,” said Tipton of the day’s events. “We had a beautiful day to help make it happen.”
“I am overjoyed to see so many people here,” said Shirley Andricks, an original committee member. “I’m seeing people that were little children when it was built. They’re grown up, married and they have children of their own enjoying it. And, I’m elated — elated to see so many here and it turned out beautiful.”