Moms you should know

Ronda Locke, April Cesaretti, Michelle Lia and Andrea Newman are like most moms who enjoy hanging out at the neighborhood park with their kids—with one exception—instead of complaining about their aging playground, they raised the money to replace it.

The park district matches funds if a neighborhood group can raise $200,000, so the group began planning fundraisers in 2005 to renovate the Commercial Park playground near Ashland and Chicago avenues in Chicago. Undaunted by the large sum of money they’d need, the moms, who have kids ranging in age from a few weeks to 11 years old, approached the Chicago Park District, local politicians and their friends and neighbors.

Two years later, after holding auctions, pizza and pasta buffets, kids garage sales and fests, the Playground Renovation committee has raised enough cash for a new playground.

The park will have a modern, rubberized surface instead of the current wood chips and separate areas for younger and older kids. And, not willing to settle for any old park, this new play place will have a giant serpent sculpture, designed by a local arts group, meandering through the entire area.

“Once they break ground, they have 90 days to finish the project,” Locke says."So by March we’ll be sitting at our new playground.”

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