'We will do it'

Dildo and area highly supportive of new playground project

Terry Roberts editor@cbncompass.ca
Published on November 6, 2012
Angie Reid (left) and Denise Legge pose in front of the Bill Pretty Memorial Playground sign in Dildo last week. The committee formed last year has now raised some $40,000 for the playground project.
Photo by Terry Roberts/The Compass

An ambitious effort by a dedicated group of civic-minded individuals to construct a new playground in the heart of the community of Dildo is receiving unconditional support.

In less than a year, members of the newly formed Dildo Recreation Committee have acquired the perfect plot of land, raised more than $40,000 - exactly half their targetted amount - and ignited a sense of spirit and enthusiasm in the community that is clearly visible each time the committee stages a fundraising event.

It all started last summer with a conversation between young mothers Angie Reid, Denise Legge and Natasha Trainor.

They all felt there was a need for a playground in the centre of this community of roughly 800 residents, located in Trinity Bay, some 19 kilometres from Whitbourne and some 38 kilometres from Carbonear.

With assistance from Bellevue MHA Calvin Peach, they called a public meeting in September 2011 that attracted more than two dozen people, and the idea has been gaining momentum ever since.

With a core group of roughly 20 members - mostly young mothers intent on ensuring their children have a safe and fun place to play - the committee has been staging regular fundraising events, including a first-ever Fall Harvest Festival earlier this month that attracted some 300 people and generated a cool $3,000 in clear profit.

The festival was given rave reviews, and was highlighted by a competition for the best homemade jams and pies.

A haunted hike was also scheduled for this past weekend, adding to a long list of previous events that included a garden party, childrens' dance, casino night, silent auction, community breakfast, sports day, ticket draws, movie nights, yard sales and much, much more.

Hundreds of people have supported every event, displaying a level of generosity that has inspired the committee to work even harder.

The committee now hopes to raise all the necessary funds by this spring, and though some say it's too ambitious, Angie hopes to cut a ribbon on the new playground during the summer or fall of 2013.

"We feel like we're doing something really, really great for the community," said Angie, who chairs the recreation committee.

Significant donation

During a conversation at the playground site last week, the energy radiating from Angie and Denise was unmistakable as they raved about the support their efforts have garnered.

They are especially proud and grateful for the very significant donation made by the family of the late Bill Pretty. Pretty's widow, Cisley, readily agreed to donate land to the project, located at the corner of the main road and Pretty's Lane. Another resident, Sam Pretty, also donated a strip of land.

"We all looked at this parcel and said 'wouldn't that be beautiful.' Cisley thought it was a wonderful idea and she was overwhelmed. Her family also felt there was nothing better they could do with this land," Angie said.

The committee has already spent some $15,000 to purchase hundreds of dump truck loads of fill.

Fostered community pride

Committee members feel the establishment of a recreation committee and plans to build a playground have helped bolster the town's spirit and pride. Some older citizens, including many lifelong volunteers and community boosters, have offered tremendous encouragement, said Denise.

They both agree that winning the support of area residents is "our biggest accomplishment to date."

"We are very proud, and the people are proud of us," Denise noted. "We've gone from zero budget to $40,000 in less than a year.

"We will do it. We will definitely put a playground here."

More than a name

The community has received worldwide notoriety for its name, and there have been efforts over the years to change it. But it's also helped attract visitors to the area, and tourism is now serious business.

The recreation committee believes a modern new playground will only increase the appeal for visitors, and strengthen the fibre of what is already an active, caring community.

"I think a community is what you make it. And that's our plan. To make it a great place for kids, and a welcoming place for tourism," said Angie.

They are also clear on another thing: the playground is only a start.

"The sky is the limit. There have been some fantastic ideas talked about, and if we think we can do it and we think there's a need, we will do it," said Angie.