Local park organization edged out in national contest finals

Solano Playlot finished in fourth place in the KaBOOM! contest for $25,000 worth of playground equipment.

Solano Playlot finished in fourth place in the KaBOOM! contest for $25,000 worth of playground equipment.

Melanie Myers, founding member of Solano PLAY, found out Wednesday that the organization didn’t win a $25,000 prize package to help renovate Solano Playlot. Only the top three vote-getters were awarded prizes; the park in the North and East neighborhood finished fourth.

“While we lost the contest, we gained something much more important – the recognition that we can take action and improve our community,” said Myers.

Representatives from KaBOOM!, in breaking the news to Myers, said the final tallies were very close.

“The Solano Playlot put in an incredibly valiant effort,” said Allison Risso, public relations representative for KaBOOM!. “We had four finalists that were miles ahead of the rest and unfortunately Solano came in fourth and we only had three prizes.”

Throughout the contest voting period, the Solano Playlot hovered around fourth place. The playlot started the final day of voting, October 15, in third place; Solano was ahead of fourth-place Casita Elementary Playground by just 0.2% of the total vote.

At about 11 a.m. that final day, KaBOOM! representatives decided to remove the live-result tool that had lived on the site since the start of the voting period on September 28.

“We removed the live results intentionally because of the delay in when people voted and when our servers could post the information. The numbers weren’t lining up and people were getting frustrated,” Risso said. The company, she added, had not anticipated the tremendous outpouring of support from each of the communities.

Parents was going to break the story in their February issue,” Risso said. “Our local contests don’t often get this much local press, and so the fact that I have reporters from every community calling and asking, ‘When will you release the results?’ we knew we had to quickly re-think our strategy.”

KaBOOM! does not intend to release the final vote tallies.

Myers received word of the results Wednesday afternoon and immediately sent an email to community members, officials, and press. In it she wrote, “Winning new play equipment would have been great, but we still have a lot of work to do, and we don’t plan to let these results delay us even for one minute.”

Some estimates have placed the renovation costs at over $200,000, and Myers says that Solano PLAY welcomes contributions to help make the renovations a reality.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin will be issuing a proclamation at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, recognizing Solano PLAY for its hard work.

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