Cranberry to raze Playtime Palace

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Hear ye, hear ye: The final clarion call to Playtime Palace is being sounded, and that trumpet blast is expected to attract thousands of miniature royals this weekend to Cranberry's Route 19 Community Park.

The township is bidding a long-anticipated farewell to the wooden "palace" that was played -- and dreamed -- upon for a generation.

The wooden structure will be removed on Monday and Tuesday by volunteers from Westinghouse and TRACO, making way for "The Kids Castle," a play area intended to entertain the next generation of township princes and princesses.

A joint project of the township's two biggest nonprofits (Cranberry Township Community Chest and Cranberry CUP) as well as the municipality, The Kids Castle will be erected during a five-day period most likely in July. Dates have not been set.

Bruce Mazzoni, a township supervisor and a leader of CTCC, said Playtime Palace will be bid a grand goodbye this weekend. "I think we're going to have thousands of people there," he predicted.

Saturday's adieu will be accompanied by an formal groundbreaking for The Kids Castle at 7:55 a.m., followed by a 5-K race that begins at 9:05 a.m. at the entrance to the park, Ernie Mashuda Drive. The race is expected to have more than 300 runners. It is serving as a fundraiser for the The Kids Castle project. Mr. Mazzoni said he expects it to raise at least $6,000.

Additionally, the plans for one-third of the new play area -- the section known as Cranberry Today -- will be unveiled. Its features are the result of input from 3,500 school children who were asked in January to design their dream playground. Those concept drawings were amalgamated into a plan that is being unveiled Saturday.

Citing fears of treason accusations, Mr. Mazzoni stayed mum on the details. But, he whispered that some components of the Cranberry Today area will include a double-decker structure with a balcony, ropes and rock climbing, and a variety of slides.

The two other areas of The Kids Castle -- Cranberry Yesterday and Cranberry Tomorrow -- will feature themes and equipment reflective of their respective names.

The Cranberry Yesterday will use bricks taken from a one-room schoolhouse that recently was razed by the township as well as some of the wood from Playtime Palace.

It will have swing sets and seesaws and animals on springs.

Cranberry Tomorrow will look more futuristic, Mr. Mazzoni said, with climber, sliding and gliding apparatuses, some of which make noises when jumped on.

"It's really different, something you don't see too often," Mr. Mazzoni said.

The new play area will be about 21/2 times the size of the existing Playtime Palace and it will be constructed behind where the existing structure stands.

The new playground will cost $495,000 and will be built by volunteers.

Mr. Mazzoni said some $315,000 has been raised for the project so far and a major "push" is on to solicit both corporate and private contributions.

Anyone interested in contributing is asked to visit the CTCC website at www.ctcchest.org.

Meantime, Mr. Mazzoni is encouraging one and all to make a final salute to Playtime Palace.

"It looks like it's going to be a sunny day," he said -- a fine day to don one's crown, mount one's steed and fly the banner of childhood pretend.

neigh_north

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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