Construction begins on Zahra Baker playground

Construction begins on Zahra Baker playground

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by GREG ARGOS / NewsChannel 36

WCNC.com

Posted on April 12, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 6:57 AM

HICKORY, N.C. -- Volunteers will start building a new playground in Hickory in honor of Zahra Baker Thursday.

The playground is being named the Zahra Baker All Children's Playground.

The playground will be a 90-by-60-foot oval, filled with slides, swings and other equipment to run on. In total, about 200 kids will be able to play on it at the same time.

The park will include a plaque with Zahra Baker's picture on it.  Neighbors say when their kids ask about Zahra Baker, the stories they tell will be about a little girl who persevered despite her odds.

The park will also be handicapped accessible. Designers say wheelchairs will not get stuck in the sand or on playground equipment. Zahra battled cancer and walked with a prosthetic leg.

Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, was sentenced to 15 to 18 years in prison in September after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and other charges in her step-daughter's 2010 death.

Thursday, two tractor trailers full of playground equipment pulled up to the park. Volunteers began unloading the pieces.

"Yes, I took a few aspirin," said Hickory city councilman and volunteer Bruce Meisner. 

"[It's] a big day today. It's a great day for the city of Hickory and handicapped children all over North Carolina," he continued.

The idea for a park dedicated to Baker was started by the local Kiwanis Club. Steve Aaron is a member who helped organize the effort, which was originally planned to be a $75,000 project. However, donations poured in from members of the community, and now the park is going to be much larger.

"We think it will be a destination park for this region," he said.

"When this project is finished, we will have a playground that's worth about a half million dollars," he continued.

Organizers hope the park will be formally dedicated and opened by mid-May.

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