It’s called “Big Toy” and it refers to the Mandalay playground at Mandalay School in south Wantagh. Built in 1986 by community members, Big Toy could use a facelift, but only if the community can raise the $80,000 or so that it will take to have a state of the art playground for Wantagh’s children.
“We are hoping to update the playground for better skill development,” explained committee member Sharon George. “This is the original playground and it has served our children for many years, but we believe its time for something more in line with the current thinking about activity level and development for children.”
The committee was formed three years ago and shortly thereafter began to fundraise for the new playground. However, “we stopped last year when Sandy hit. There were a lot of people in South Mandalay who were hit hard and we put our plans on hold,” said Mrs. George. “But this year we have a lot of family events, a lot of opportunities to do things that not only raise money for the playground but are fun for families.”
The first event is slated for Monday, November 4 and features the Harlem Wizards at Wantagh High School beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets purchased before the event are $10; the night of the event tickets are $15. All proceeds go to the building fund.
Other events and fundraisers include an adult comedy night at the Brokerage. “Local merchants are also helping us with raffles, and products. Applebees will also participate in a fund raiser for us,” said Mrs. George. “We are hoping that the events we are planning will raise what we need.”
If all goes well, the committee hopes to raise the money by the end of the school year. To date, the committee has raised about $60,000, of which $52,500 came through the Nassau County Legislature, said Legislator David Denenberg.
“We will get three bids, get drawings and then put this into action,” said Mrs. George, who added that Mandalay’s principal, Dr. Lynne D’Agostino “has been phenomenal. We couldn’t have done this without her. So supportive, a true leader,” said Mrs. George.
For now Big Toy sits in the courtyard just behind the school building. At the two lunch breaks the children take turns playing on Big Toy, explained Dr D’Agostino. “Some of the equipment has already been removed because it was worn away,” she said, adding that the new playground could remain on the same site or be moved. “The site plan is to be determined,” she said, depending on funding and design requirements.