City officials spoke, a tree was planted and a ribbon cut at Webster Dream Park Wednesday, Sept. 9.
It was a three-for-one ceremony including two events that were skipped this spring due to the state's emergency stay-at-home orders: the planting of a Workers Memorial tree to remember fallen workers, and Mayor Jim Paine’s proclamation declaring a celebration of trees in place of the city’s annual Arbor Day event.
To the children gathered around, however, it was all about the park itself. Webster Dream Park is Superior’s first all-inclusive, all-abilities playground.
Gabby Shaul watched her siblings David, 9, and Jody, 7, play on the zipline.
“They love it. They want to come here all the time,” Shaul said.
Paula Dalbec, who lives in Duluth’s Morgan Park neighborhood, was running an errand in Superior when her son Tanner, 8, asked to visit the park. They’ve been to Webster Dream Park a few times since it was remodeled.
“My sister lives out in Brule, so this is a good place for us to meet,” Dalbec said. “I really like how inclusive this park is. That was the first thing I noticed when we were here is just that everyone could play, which I really loved and appreciated. That’s the best feature, I think.”
Cara Van Ness and her daughter Angie, 6, live a few blocks away from the park. They watched it get built and visit it often. Wednesday, they completed a learning sheet for Angie’s online schooling as the ceremony took place.
“Our first time once everything got set up, I watched a kid that was handicapped in here and it just melted my heart. I’m like, ‘This park was meant for you, honey.’ It’s meant for him,” Van Ness said.
Webster Dream Park was the product of an 8-year-old’s dream and a community’s generosity. Kenna Hermanson started her campaign for an all-inclusive park where all her friends could play in 2018. One of the people who stopped by the 8-year-old’s fundraiser, a lemonade stand, was then-city councilor Dan Olson. He threw his support behind her vision.
“It was a mountain to climb, a long way to go,” Olson said. “I gave her a $50 bill, and I said we’re going to get this done.”
In December 2018, the Superior City Council amended its 2019 capital improvement plan to put $200,000 toward remodeling the park. An additional $100,000 in support poured in from businesses, organizations and individuals.
“This is what you can do when you think hard, you put your mind to it, dream a little bit and then everybody works together,” Olson said.
Community members helped install the new equipment in fall 2019, but the final poured play surface beneath the structures wasn’t completed until this spring, according to city Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Linda Cadotte. She said students from Bryant Elementary School have been walking to the park to play and use the green space as an outdoor classroom.
More work is planned. At Wednesday’s event, the Superior Kiwanis gifted Webster Dream Park with $5,000 for an additional play structure incorporating music. Cadotte said another group has approached the city about funding a sensory garden at the park.
Hermanson said her first visit to the completed park was two weeks ago. She’s seen people from her school playing, but none of her friends yet.
“I like that everyone can play on it altogether,” she said. “I like to hear that they’re really enjoying it here. To hear all the screams and laughter is just so much fun.”
What’s next for the young dreamer?
“I’m not sure,” Hermanson said. “I’ll try and build another one.”
Those who had gathered at the park Wednesday were thankful for the young girl’s dream
“The girl, Kenna, her dream definitely is doing exactly what it needed to,” Van Ness said.