LARNED — Larned Pride members will realize a big dream Friday.
“We wanted to tackle a larger project that would truly change the face of our community,” said Angie Murray, Larned Pride member. “We had this idea that became a dream nearly a year ago. We had no idea what we were getting into.”
When Murray rejoins a few of her friends, a community-wide celebration will coincide with the grand opening for the Splash Pad at Doerr-Vernon Park.
Local dignitaries, Larned Pride members, volunteers and children are all invited for Friday’s 6 p.m. “Flip the Switch Night.”
The Splash Pad project started on April 1 and was completed in a little more than 60 days. Murray estimates the work amounted to a $400,000 project, sprearheaded by professional contractors and volunteers who donated their time.
Kansas Department of Commerce and Kansas State Extension officials have been so impressed with the fast-track progress of the Splash Pad, they are making a special trip to see the project Saturday.
Murray remembers the anxious moments prior to “Demo Day,” when Doerr-Vernon Park started its transformation.
“Volunteers Justin Hammond and Jay Shaver were so excited they couldn’t sleep the night before,” Murray said. “At times, I felt guilty asking for help.
“But everyone remembers how they felt after they helped out. Everyone bought into the project. We have volunteers who have worked every day. We’ve been overwhelmed with the help.”
Rachel Webster served as Murray’s backup person who often helped however she could.
“This would not have happened without the amazing response from the community and especially the contractors and professionals who do this work for a living,” Webster said. “It’s pretty awesome to be part of this. It’s something I’ll always remember.”
Webster said everyone had their own personal reason for helping. Parents helped a son or daughter, others helped their grandchildren.
“I’m proud to be called a Larned Indian and happy to call Larned home,” she said. “We showed why we have a great town. Now, we have assess to a beautiful renovated park. The middle school and high school students should be proud of themselves. They didn’t have easy work.”
Murray said it was a learning experience.
“We learned a little with each passing day and we soon realized we wouldn’t be able to do this without the volunteers,” she said. “We’re certain people had no idea of the time that would be required. But we’re sure everyone is happy we’re ‘Flipping the Switch.’ ”
The Splash Pad was funded through a $125,000 Kansas Department of Commerce Small Communities Improvement Program grant that required 40 percent of the project be donated labor and equipment.
Larned Pride was organized two years ago as a collaboration with the Kansas State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Larned Pride has launched a community garden and orchard, a farmer’s market and a community roller-skating program.