READING, Pa. - A brand new playground has been built in Reading, but days after volunteers thought their work was done, July 4 fireworks damaged the new basketball court.
With the help of more than 200 volunteers, the Gilmore Henne Community Fund transformed the 16th & Haak playground with just grass and an old steel frame to what it is today.
Volunteers built and installed the playground equipment, resurfaced the basketball court and painted the fence, block house and benches on June 28.
"It went from nothing to an incredible playground and it is filled with kids right now," said Christine Anderton, the fund's executive director.
But, what became a proud moment for the community, was tarnished when the park was used to set off a firework display on July 4.
"When I pulled up to the park, I could not believe what I was seeing," said Anderton, adding that she found fireworks laying all over the court.
Beneath that debris were holes blown through the self-leveling paint on the court that will cost more than $2,000 to repair.
If left unfixed, she said the holes would start peeling away at the brand new court, so she said she knew something had to be done.
"We did not work our butts off for months and we did not get funding from so many people, so much money, for someone to destroy it and us just walk away," said Anderton.
Anderton began picking up the trash and used the vandalism as a learning tool to teach the children on the playground to take care of their park or no one else will.
Police have already arrested one person for damaging the playground. They have not yet released the suspect's name.
Anderton said she just hopes the person is prosecuted and the fund can collect restitution for the damage.
Allentown, PA 18102