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    Promoting Play

    Construction progressing at Overton Park’s Rainbow Lake Playground

    Antonio Vera of ViktorHall Construction works on the “Big Green Mound” in the new Rainbow Lake Pavilion at Overton Park. The mound will feature a tunnel through it and a sand pit at one end.

    (Photos: Lance Murphey)

    Work crews with ViktorHall Construction have been wrapping up some extensive site work needed to renovate the area of Overton Park that houses the Rainbow Lake Playground.

    That work is nearly finished and will offer adventurous youngsters a new Overton Park-themed place where they can play.

    The first major feature of the new playground is starting to emerge now. The Big Green Mound is a grassy mound with a tunnel through it and a sand pit at one end of the tunnel. The concrete tunnel is stained and gives the appearances of a fallen log.

    It’s one of many of the playground’s design features that draw inspiration from the adjacent Old Forest portion of Overton Park.

    The playground work also is one piece of a larger series of events, tweaks and renovations happening at the park, including a new bicycle- and wheelchair-accessible path and plaza at the intersection of East Parkway and Sam Cooper Boulevard. That path is part of the Overton-Broad Connector project, which includes linking Overton Park to Shelby Farms Park.

    The grand reopening of Rainbow Lake Playground will happen June 8 at Overton Park’s family festival, “A Day of Merrymaking at Overton Park.” Support of the project has included major funding from AutoZone and the Children’s Foundation of Memphis.

    “They’re currently working on this feature called the Big Green Mound, and we have an artist who’s designed a hollow tree and made the top look like finished wood,” said Overton Park Conservancy director of communications Melissa McMasters.

    She was referring to artist Bernhard Meck, who’s building both the tree tunnel and another feature that will include objects kids can use for creative play.

    ANF Architects designed the playground. The idea was to capitalize on being between the Old Forest and the Greensward, so the team added relevant touches like trees and plants.

    “Kids can crawl through the Big Green Mound tunnel and look like they’re crawling underground,” McMasters said. “I think that’s going to be a really cool feature.”

    Overton Park Conservancy executive director Tina Sullivan said a rock wall is now complete at the new playground area. The wall was re-routed to allow the entire playground to be fenced, and two gates provide access points.

    “This arrangement creates better accessibility to the Rainbow Lake path from the parking lot, for both wheelchairs and strollers,” Sullivan said.

    Meanwhile, workers also have begun setting posts for a feature called “Up & Down & All Around.” That’s a multi-level wooden structure comprised of ramps and platforms that will create ADA-accessible play areas.

    “We are reusing and recycling as much of the old playground as we can,” Sullivan said. “Some of the benches and picnic tables still have some useful life in them, and some pieces of the old playground equipment will be spruced up with new powder-coating and reinstalled along with the new structures.”

    The playground’s June 8 opening-day celebration will be a family-friendly festival event that includes a music stage, a storytelling stage, a kids’ zone hosted by YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South, dog-themed activities and more.

    The day will last from 10 am to 3 p.m. For the event, the Overton Park Greensward will be filled with food, games and other activities. The day also will coincide with a celebration of the one-year anniversary of Overton Bark.

    Hollywood Feed is hosting a dog agility course, a canine costume contest and treats for pets. The day also will include a European-style street fair, bouncy castles, old-fashioned games and races and food from vendors like Huey’s and YoLo Frozen Yogurt.