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By Anne O’Connor


TOWNSEND — A child’s dream sits tucked away behind a ball field and an elementary school. With things to climb, things to bang and things to move around on, Kids Kountry Playground is quite the place.

Built on town land, the equipment was given to the town by Sterilite in 1993. The company has donated a Highway Department building, library, senior center and meeting room since then, in honor of the town’s 275th anniversary.

Tracey Simolaris, a supporter of the playground, and Aaron Arsenault, the president of the Townsend Business Association (TBA), got together to raise money to maintain and update the facility. The town did not budget any money in the 2010 budget for recreation programs, including playground maintenance this year.

Since raising money for a playground should entail having fun, the two have planned a special day on the Common for a fundraising event sponsored by the TBA. The Kids’ Kountry Playground Fundraising Event is scheduled for Saturday, July 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, July 12, from noon to 5 p.m.

“Please come and enjoy yourself,” Simolaris said. “It’s free.”

There will be something for everyone at the festivities. Pony rides and a free Bouncy House donated by the Shepherds will keep young ones busy.

No one will go hungry. Burgers, hot dogs, pizza, cotton candy, fried dough, kettlecorn and the Slush Lady will keep the munchies at bay.

Music lovers are in for a special treat. Leominster jazz guitarist Mark Marquis will perform with his group, Guitar X3. Arsenault said Marquis is donating his performance because he likes the Townsend Common so much.

Other musicians donating performances for the event include Mike Kelly and Matt Dionne, Dan Sitar, Jimi Morrell and Marc Roy. Arsenault is donating the sound equipment.

Other vendors will be selling crafts and food. They will donate 20 percent of their profits to the playground instead of paying a table fee. All profits from the TBA food tables will be given to the playground.

This spring volunteers got together to clean up the area, add mulch, plant grass and generally spiff things up for the children. The grounds are clean and attractive, safely fenced from traffic.

Simolaris said she and some other mothers would like to see more long-term improvements. Aging benches need to be replaced with weatherize-proof versions. There is no electricity to the gazebo where a toddler group meets in the good weather.

They have their eyes on more pieces of equipment too. Simolaris mentioned “The Wave.” This piece costs $6,200.

She said there is a special account in the Cemetery and Parks Department and through the Townsend Recreational Council (TRAC) for funds to support the playground. These accounts also pay for some ongoing expenses like the porta-potty.