parkbenchFour-year-old Parker Pustejovsky had a dream to rebuild a park to honor his father and other first responders whose lives were tragically taken in the West Fertilizer Explosion in West, Texas, on April 17, 2013. What started as a simple idea to sell hotdogs, quickly turned into a significant fundraising event that garnered a wealth of support from all across the country. Over the next two years, Parker’s Park Project raised more than $200,000 in addition to donated materials for the park rebuild.

Playground equipment companies Child’s Play Inc. and BCI Burke Premier Play Environments were chosen by Parker’s Park Project to do 100 percent of the design, including all of the custom items. They oversaw the entire project from budgeting and design to installation. “We agreed to donate 100 percent of any labor on the project and helped organize the community installation of the playground. We also reached out to my manufactures to request special pricing and contributions to the project,” says Jay Robertson of Child’s Play Inc. These manufacturers include Ground Smart Rubber Mulch, which brought in two truckloads (44 tons) of Blue Rubber Mulch and Vitriturf Rubber Surfacing, which contributed the rubber road for the playground surface.

With the help of more than 100 volunteers on the community build day, the first responders-themed park was successfully completed before the two-year anniversary of the explosion. On April 18, 2015, Parker’s Park was officially reopened to the public with a dedication ceremony by the City of West proclaiming April 18th as Parker Pustejovsky Day. “While the tragic events should never be forgotten, the future of West is bright,” says Robertson. “One day, the children of today will be telling their children how the town came together and rebuilt the playground, and they were there to help.”

Catrina Belt is an Editorial Intern for Parks & Recreation magazine.

As originally posted on Parks and Recreation – July, 2015 –