As the original 1998 dream intended, Casey’s Clubhouse is filled with the voices of children again after a recent grand opening showcased a complete remodel of one of the city’s signature playgrounds.
After being razed due to the ravages of nearly two decades of use and being rebuilt bigger and better — the budget was $1.25 million — the all-inclusive and all-accessible playground officially opened Saturday in Dove Park.
“The play environment is so incredibly unique, and the design of the all-inclusive structures are over the top,” said Kevin Mitchell, assistant director of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department. “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.”
Resident Stacey Weiss said her special-needs child is thrilled to have a fun place to cavort.
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“Hannah had the opportunity to go to Casey’s Clubhouse, which is an awesome handicap-accessible playground,” said Weiss, a special education teacher. “What a blessing that whatever Hannah wanted to do, I never had to say no. That is a gift I will never forget.
“Hannah was so excited,” Weiss said. “As a special-needs parent, we unfortunately have to say no, you aren’t able to do this because it’s not made for a wheelchair. Today I said, go play. And she could!”
The playground was named in memory of Casey Tridico, a Grapevine resident who died in 1995 at age 7.
Casey had served as the Texas Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. One of her dreams was to find a playground that would allow her to keep up with her able-bodied friends, even though she was in a wheelchair. City staff and volunteers worked hard to make that dream a reality.
“Casey’s Clubhouse is that playground,” said Mona Burk of the Parks & Recreation Department. “This little girl’s dream to play with her friends on the playground spurred Casey’s mom, Debra, to make life better for others.”
In 1996, Debra Tridico started out on a mission to create a place for all children to play together in harmony, regardless of their abilities. At the time, raising the necessary monies for a very special playground seemed a tall task, but city and state funds were augmented by more than 1,000 donors who stepped up to make the dream a reality. And, on May 30, 1998, Casey’s Clubhouse opened to the public.
And today, it is open again. After a complete revamp. the one-of-a-kind, custom park at 1509 Hood Lane is like no other park in Texas, city officials said.
Casey’s family and friends were in attendance for the grand opening.
“Words can’t describe how excited we are,” Tridico said. “Casey would be so proud.”