Have you ever wondered how many people it takes to build a 5,000-square-foot playground in one day?
In Round Lake, the answer is 550.
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About 400 volunteers from Discover and KaBOOM joined another 150 from the Round Lake area community Friday to build a playground at the Round Lake Area Park District's Sports Complex on Municipal Way.
Discover donated the more than $160,000 project, which is designed to give Round Lake area kids a safe place to play, said Larissa Drake, the vice-president of marketing for Discover.
"I have been an employee of Discover for about 12 years, and this is one of the best things I get to do as an employee," Drake said.
While volunteer employees were bused in to help build the playground early Friday morning, work actually began Wednesday, said Bob Newport, executive director of the Round Lake Area Park District.
In the preceding days, wood was cut for planters and benches, playground equipment was laid out for assemblers, and mulch was piled high.
"It's truly organized chaos at this point," Newport said Friday. "But, it's awesome to watch. It's going so fast that if you walk away for 30 minutes and come back, you're amazed at how much work has been done."
Volunteer working Dave Daudelin of Round Lake said the day was "crazy, but a good kind of crazy."
The project would be "impressive" when it was completed and that "the design looks great," he added.
This is the second park KaBOOM and Discover have built for the Round Lake Area Park District, Newport said. The park district was contacted in May about building this latest playground, and the planning took about 10 weeks.
The coolest aspect of the new playground, he said, is that it was designed by the kids who will use it.
Children were brought in for a pizza party and design day event in July, and they drew pictures of what they would like to see in any park that was built. Because of it, the playground comes with a large dump truck loader that children can use to pick up mulch, sticks and sand, a tire swing, and a large jungle gym with two slides.
The area will also feature 25 picnic benches and a handful of straight benches and flower planters.
Officials from KaBOOM, a nonprofit group dedicated to ensuring there are places for children to play, said this project puts a playground within walking distance for about 300 children in the Round Lake community.
This is the 17th playground built by KaBOOM and Discover in the last 15 years in the Chicago area, and one of 1,500 playgrounds KaBOOM will build across the country in 2011.