Seen here in design renderings, a community build at the end of June will yield a beautiful new Rotary Children’s Park, complete with its own pirate ship. CONTRIBUTED

Twenty years after the original was built, Marathon’s Rotary Children’s Park is getting a total rebuild from the ground up. And we need your help!

I will always remember the good times we had, coming together as a community to create and build this park. Rotarians, City of Marathon officials and staff, and a large number of volunteers from the community raised the park from a cleared field in a week. I felt I was part of a really good thing that happened in our city — I’ve always enjoyed coming back to the park, seeing my old brick from the first City Council and being glad that this was part of the legacy I (and so many others) left behind.

As you read this, there are still three build days left: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The city needs volunteers to get as much done while the Play by Design folks are still in Marathon (we get them for a week). It doesn’t matter if you have mad construction skills or not — your talents will be put to good use. And even if you can only come for an hour or two at a time, please show up and lend a helping hand. You just might get a free breakfast, lunch or dinner as a bonus!

There are a lot of local businesses and organizations helping out, and for that we are grateful. Local restaurants have donated food to help feed our volunteers, and working on rebuilding a park can certainly build one’s appetite. Some of our restaurant heroes are Irie Island Eats, Marathon Bagel, Driftwood Pizza, The Stuffed Pig, Brutus Seafood, Porky’s BBQ, Frank’s Grill, and more — I’m just sorry I won’t be able to name all the businesses that donate time and equipment.

SeLevel Contracting donated time and resources to dig all the holes in our tough “soil” so that the posts could be properly anchored in the ground. Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys generously donated tools (and if you have them, please bring them along when you come). U.S. Coast Guard Station Marathon has donated a lot of time and human power, and we are very grateful for their service to country and community. Calvary Baptist Church (on 76th Street next to Rotary Park) is providing parking and their air conditioned basement for meals and a respite from the June weather. Keys Vineyard Church will feed everyone breakfast on Saturday morning. And as I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of other local businesses donating time and resources to help build this park — we are very grateful.

I need to mention some of the city staff who are busting their buns on this project — and again, please forgive me if I don’t have the space to mention your name here. Parks & Rec Director Paul Davis and his entire staff are helping out with everything, from digging holes and erecting park elements to coordinating volunteers and tools, and keeping everyone hydrated. Hammer Runyon is in beast mode, lifting and hauling and doing what he has done to make this city a better place for more than a decade and a half. Tuesday was his 60th birthday, and he celebrated it at Rotary park helping out. Marathon Fire Rescue are on site in case of emergency, but our firefighters are lending a helping hand with construction as well — thank you very much. And there are a lot of other city staff members going above and beyond. Ports Director Sean Cannon wields a mean power saw!

Right now, the only thing missing is you. It’s not every day that you have a chance to be part of a project like this, something that will last decades and bring so much joy to our current children as well as the generation of children yet to come. Please be a part of this project, and leave behind a wonderful legacy to our kids. I hope to see you at the park! 

If you’re going: please park in the Calvary Baptist parking lot on 76th Street and check in at the volunteer table.

– John Bartus’ Perpetual Island Tour resumes tonight at Sparky’s Landing. Catch John next Monday at Boondocks, and Tuesday and Wednesday at the Key Colony Inn. And check out John’s music anywhere you stream or download your music! Or point your browser to:

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