All-inclusive Casey’s Clubhouse to open Sept. 7

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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After a $1,250,000 facelift, Casey’s Clubhouse, an all-inclusive wheelchair-accessible playground in Dove Park, will be filled with the happy voices of children again.

In the late 1990s, after months of planning, fund raising and construction efforts by volunteers and professionals, Casey’s Clubhouse was dedicated. The playground was named for Casey Tridico, a former Muscular Dystrophy Association Texas Goodwill Ambassador, who died in 1995 at age 7 from complications of spinal muscular atrophy.

Casey dreamed of finding a playground that would allow her to keep up with her able-bodied friends, even though she was in a wheelchair, her family says. Her mother, Debra, spearheaded the project and the playground became a reality.

Over the years, the park fell victim to age and was in need of repair. Last year, the decision was made to raze the playground and start anew.

“We are proud to introduce this whimsical, happy place to children everywhere,” said Mona Burk, parks and recreation spokeswoman. “This one-of-a-kind, custom park is like no other park in the State of Texas.”

The grand opening is set for Sept. 7 at 1509 Hood Lane and will feature members of Casey’s family.

Kevin Mitchell, assistant director of Parks and Recreation, said the park “looks great.”

“We have multiple 100 percent custom pieces,” he added. “This project was very unique and special. City staff worked to manage and build as much of this project as possible.”

“The play environment is so incredibly unique and the design of the all-inclusive structures are over the top,” he said. “Whether it be a child with a mental or physical disability or no disability at all, at the end of the day, all children just want to play together. This playground is for everyone.”

For years, the playground was a testament to a job well done thanks in part to local volunteers.

Residents raised money for the project, enabling it to qualify for a matching grant from the state. Volunteer labor built part of the playground, and professionals helped by donating part of their materials and labor.

Mitchell said the clubhouse goes beyond the national requirements for access and inclusion for the physically-challenged and others.

“We call it all-inclusive,” he said. “It’s for all ages from toddler to as young as you want to be.”

Casey’s Clubhouse renovations is equipped with activities that are safe and designed for children with motor disabilities, sensory issues, autism, hearing and vision problems and other challenges.

Returning will be the water-spurting dolphins and colorful turtles water skiing behind a boat. Other specialties are a donor plaza, sculpted boats, a big tree with clubhouse and slide, the Cozy Cocoon, stump jumpers, a fishing shack and a rock quarry, Alvin the Anteater, Sam and Sally Snake, Anthony the Armadillo, Adam the Ant and Betty Beaver.

“I’m totally excited about it and I think the kids will be excited,” said Debra Tridico. “Casey just wanted to play with other kids and we want all kids to have that opportunity, too.”

Casey’s father, Louis Tridico, agreed, saying, “This revised version will ensure that Casey’s memory will continue.”

Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367

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