Marathon High School Champions for Change club members Tinashay Cunningham, left, Taylor Sipe and Hailey Pena pack down dirt in post holes before Wednesday’s concrete pour.

The rebuild of Marathon’s Rotary Park is off to a solid start, but more hands are always needed.

The seven-day build kicked off on June 20, bringing to life a vision created in tandem between playground experts Play by Design and Marathon’s own resident experts in play: students at Stanley Switlik Elementary School.

With dedicated groups of volunteers working in shifts from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day, the park’s major structures are beginning to take shape. The goal is to finish the entire build by Sunday, June 26. Though many community organizations, corporations and government groups have lent significant manpower to the build, there’s always room for more.

“We haven’t had as many bodies as we would like, but we’ve gotten a lot of work done,” said Marathon parks and recreation director Paul Davis on Wednesday. “Today we’re going to be pouring the concrete, and now you can actually see it come to form.

“We definitely need more people, though. The more we have, the faster we can get things done. It’s a seven-day build, and we’re on day three already, so we’ve got a ways to go.”
To volunteer for shifts on the park’s final build days, contact Jennifer Ward at [email protected]. Volunteer shifts run from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on each day of the build, and volunteers are encouraged to stop by and help with whatever time they have. Opportunities range from working a sign-in table and serving food to providing skilled labor with power tools. Childcare is available for parents who wish to volunteer. Volunteers may park at the Calvary Baptist Church parking lot on 76th Street before checking in at the volunteer table.

Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.