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Gainesville's Wilshire Trails playground gets even more fun
New features include climbing areas, added swings
Antonio Martinez of Timberlake Outdoors in Buckhead drills holes in the ground Wednesday for a new playground set at Wilshire Trials Park. The playground will be completely finished in two weeks. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Get ready to swing, climb, jump and crawl.

The new playground at Wilshire Trails Park in Gainesville is expected to be finished Saturday.

“Our plan has always been to have the new playground ready by the Friends of the Parks 14th Annual Butterfly Release on Sunday, May 16,” said Julie Butler Colombini, marketing and communications coordinator for Gainesville Parks and Recreation. “It think it is going to be the perfect celebration for the new playground.”

The previous Wilshire playground, like many of the city’s playgrounds, was more than 20 years old, which made it difficult to find parts and materials to repair it.

The city wanted to not only replace the old playground, but also make the new one bigger and better, using some new features.

For example, the new playground will include a swing set with four regular swings and two tot swings, and there will be two play structures appropriate for different ages: One for 2- to 5-year-olds and one for 5- to 12-year-olds, both with slides and climbers.

Some of the play features include a “bumper” ladder, bongo steps, a side-by-side slide, a climbing wall, lily pad steppers, a braided climber and a “funnel tunnel.”

Butler Colombini, who has a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old, said she thinks kids will love the new playground.

“From what I’ve seen of the design, I know we will be spending a lot of time at Wilshire this summer,” she said. “My boys love to climb and slide and these features are awesome.”

She added that it’s important for parents to find a park that is both fun and safe for their kids.

“I think many families choose to make Gainesville their home because we have safe and fun places to take our kids,” Butler Colombini said. “Every family deserves a safe fun place for their children to play.”

Of course, with video games and computers being favorite pastimes among kids these days, it can be hard to get kids excited about going outdoors.

“I am a firm believer that you have to try and find a little time after work or on the weekends to get out of the house, away from screens and work worries,” she said. “A park is the perfect place to do it, and we have great parks throughout the city.”

The city also will be replacing the playgrounds at Desota Park and at Longwood Park by the end of June.

Butler Colombini said Longwood’s playground will have three “glide slides,” a rock climber, a “solar” climber, a drum panel and another “funnel tunnel” among its features.

“Desota’s playground will have regular and tot swings, a double-chute slide, animal locator, ‘freddie forecaster’ and other interactive elements, as well as an arch climber, ribbon climber and tree climber,” Butler Colombini said.

She said a playground also will be installed at the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center in the coming months.