For well over 40 years, children have made themselves dizzy with giggles as they spun on the metal merry-go-round at the park on Fair Road and Max Lockwood Drive. But recently, that piece of equipment was replaced as the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department refurbished and renovated the grounds.
It was the “end of an era,” said Broni Gainous, marketing and communications coordinator for the department.
“After being on the Fair Road playground for over 40 years, the merry-go-round was removed … to make room for the installation of a new merry-go-round,” she said.
The old slides and monkey bars are still there, but there are new foundations underneath the swings, instead of sand, to “make it safer,” she said. The park has new benches coming and new trash cans, and the shrubs have been removed “to make it more aesthetically pleasing” and inviting, she said. The Statesboro Kiwanis Club is donating a special swing for the handicapped, too.
The old merry-go-round, which has a legendary reputation among locals who recall head-spinning moments on it as playmates made it twirl, was no longer safe, Gainous said.
The fate of the park is still up in the air as the city of Statesboro and Bulloch County continue to discuss the matter, working around the Blue Mile project, she said. But in the meantime, improvements are being made so people can continue to enjoy the park.
Under the shade of massive pines, families and children’s groups such as Camp Cherokee, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have made memories at the park.
“I used to enjoy riding the chicken and the sheep,” said Dennis Brannen, referring to the different animal figures mounted on springs where children could bounce and “ride.”
Kim Ritchie Spencer remembers the monkey bars and large, oddly shaped, triangular metal slide.
“I got trapped up there,” she said.
She also remembers “burning your feet on that silver triangle weirdness.”
Patti Brannen Harts remembers the triangle slide, too.
“It was a big accomplishment as a child to climb to the top,” she said. “Rule of the playground was to check to see if it was too hot before going down it.”
It seems that slide made an impact on most.
“I just remember the steep metal slide, hot as blazes as I climbed up awkwardly, then almost became airborne sliding down so quickly, only to fill my shoes with sand,” said Connie Morris Brannen.
But the merry-go-round was famous, too.
“And of course the metal ride I clung to as the older kids pushed it faster and faster until I almost lost my lunch!” Brannen said.
Anne Classens Horne not only played in the park herself as a child, but remembers when her son enjoyed the same equipment she once did.
“I have several photos of him at that park.”
Gainous said the park reopened for use Friday, but there are still minor improvements to come, as benches and new trash receptacles will be installed.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.