PHOTO: A crowd gathers within the Panther Park playground to section off the equipment during the auction, May 22. (Photo by Emily Burds)
PHOTO: Joe Cruise auctions off one of the final pieces during the Panther Park sale last Wednesday, May 22. (Photo by Emily Burds)
By Emily Burds, Express Intern
The Monticello School Board auctioned off Shannon Elementary’s Panther Park last Wednesday night, May 22, 20 years to the day since the park was officially opened in 1993. Area residents gathered despite overcast skies to work their way through the park, auctioning sections off to raise money to build an entirely new playground.
Joe Cruise came out to be the auctioneer and with the help of Bob Abeling, the head of maintenance and transportation for the school district, sections were decided upon as the auction proceeded. A crowd of about 30 started the bidding on a swingset and worked from right to left all the way down to the pea rock that the playground sits on, which went to School Board Member Chris Brokaw, along with the wooden frame that surrounds the entirety of the playground for $100.
“Let’s get this cleaned up and taken care of,” Cruise called out as he took bids on the three cement animal statues that Panther Park is known for. The statues of a hippo, a gorilla and a frog went to Monticello resident Bud Johnson for a grand total of $645.
Panther Park has stood for the past two decades as a go-to playground for area children and the students of Shannon Elementary. It officially opened to the public at 1 p.m. on May 22, 1993. The original 60-by-120 foot project cost $40,000 to erect on a grant acquired by a committee at the time. The location was chosen for its safety and easy access for all community members. Although not all of the original plans came through, the park’s central theme stood and was carried out with the help of a large group of volunteers that May.
Made almost entirely of wood, the structure has started to show its years and now needs to be replaced with a safer, newer playground similar to the ones now in place at Carpenter that are quickly becoming a standard across the state.
Other sections and items of the playground included the middle structure that holds the two castle staircases and two different slides, one a straight metal and one an added on plastic slide that went for $430 to local resident Brandon Hennick. Hennick’s helper for the evening was 6-year-old son Brandon Jr. who had a different auction plan than his dad.
“I want it all,” he excitedly said when asked which pieces he was hoping to bring home. However, his dad wasn’t too keen on that idea but did manage to snag another section that included monkey bars and firemen’s poles as well as the famed wooden car that sits on tractor tires for his son and two daughters.
Superintendent Chris Anderson was also in attendance and thanked all those who came out to bid at the closing of the auction, which raised a total of $3,510. Buyers will not be able to remove their items until May 31 and must do it themselves before June 7. Following this, a new playground will be underway.