Eddings’ class became the first children to try out $320,000 worth of new playground equipment in the 1,500-acre Del Puerto Canyon park by receiving more points on a reading-monitoring software program than any other class in the school.
“They really thought the rock-climbing rocks and the trees to climb were the coolest things,” Eddings wrote this week in an email.
Since the fifth-graders’ trip, several other children have enjoyed the playground, which was created using facility fees charged to developers who built in unincorporated parts of the county over the years, said Jami Aggers, Stanislaus County director of environmental resources and parks and recreation.
The playground upgrades were outlined in the Stanislaus County Parks Master Plan released in August 1999.
The equipment, from New Jersey-based MRC Recreation, includes a tree made of concrete reinforced with glass fibers that serves as a slide, as well as artificial rocks for climbing, a tree-trunk tunnel and climbing poles with faux trees.
Other improvements include benches, concrete paths, the seesaw and six swings, two of which are handicap-accessible.
Doris Harpain, a sales consultant for MRC, described the equipment as “multigenerational,” saying there were attractions for children ages 5 and younger and up to age 12.
The pieces reflect the character of the forested canyon park around them. Owned by the county, it is about 18 miles southwest of Patterson at 16001 Del Puerto Canyon Road.
“The moral was, because of the beautiful surroundings, we wanted to have a nature type-theme that really sits well with the beauty of the park,” Harpain said.
Frank Raines Park has hiking trails behind the playground area, a softball diamond, volleyball courts, a horseshoe pit and campsites and an off-road vehicle park across the street.
The park is probably the most remote place MRC has worked, Harpain said. The staff member who installed the playground equipment grew to love the area during the two to three months he worked there, she said.
“The drive is absolutely worth it,” she said. “Once you get there, there is so much to do.”
Construction in the canyon started in December and took a couple of months to complete due to winter weather delays, according to Harpain.
While MRC has installed playgrounds throughout the nation, including several themed parks on the East Coast, the Frank Raines attraction is only the second themed playground it has created in Northern California, Harpain said. The other is a prehistoric-themed playground in Central Park in Fremont
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