New rope, slide installation revamps Snow Hinton ParkBy Jake Warner and Katherine Metcalf | 07/08/2015 1:32pm
John Wingard, Assistant Director of Student Services, Victoria Smith, Program Assistant, Jeannie Thomley, College Registar, and Tyler Roberts, Director for the UA Pre-Law Program pose after coming down the slide. Photo courtesy of Dr. Robert Hayes, III
Currently receiving its finishing touches, it includes the longest spiral slide in the Southeast United States as well as a “space net” and a “sky walk,” which consist of steel cables wrapped in nylon rope suspended 1-2 feet apart.
Adrian Cleckler, the executive assistant and playground designer of the slide, said she wanted to add something unique to the playground experience for children of all ages.
“Playgrounds right now all look the same,” she said. “We wanted to create the tallest slide to attract children and their parents.”
The new feature stands out among the rest of the flat, grassy park due to its towering height, making it visible from the adjacent shopping center as well as the University Mall. The record-breaking slide sits at a lofty 35 feet, and its pyramidal climbing web ascends equally high.
This height has some parents concerned.
“It looks kinda dangerous to me,” said Diane Langford, a concerned parent. “It’s something you should do at your own risk, and parents need to know that.”
The Tuscaloosa County Parks and Recreation Authority hopes that it will be able to dispel these fears. With two playground safety inspectors on staff – one with over 13 years of playground design experience – the decision was made with safety in mind.
“This feature meets all safety standards from the safety organization that certifies all play equipment and exceeds some of the standards for safety,” said Rebecca Booker, public relations and marketing manager of PARA. “We wanted something that would make a big splash, and we researched for several months to find the appropriate kind of equipment.”
Because of its unconventionality and thrill, Booker said the installation is more suitable for older kids, teens, and young adults. However, there is another smaller playground right next to the new one, should children or parents feel uneasy.
Testament to its age-agnosticism, the park hosted a myriad of children as well as a group of staff from the Arts and Sciences Student Services Center at The University of Alabama, who decided to stop by as part of their team-building activities Tuesday afternoon. There was a real atmosphere of encouragement as, amidst a chorus of “You go!” and “You can do it!” four staff members made it to the top and came down the slide.
“It was a little intimidating when I got on the ropes up there,” said Tyler Roberts, director of pre-law advising, who had just exited the slide. “But ultimately it wasn’t too bad. I think everybody will have a good time.”
Luci Beavers, an Alabama territory sales representative at Kompan, said the design team’s goal was to create a slide that adds many aspects of play for children of all ages.
“This slide adds another element of play,” she said. “We try to focus on as many aspects on one slide as we can.”
The slide’s purpose was not only to draw people of all ages’ attention, but also to create something that stood as a grand symbol for Tuscaloosa. She also said that the tallest slide in the Southeast will make people from all over Alabama travel and experience the beauty of its parks.
Beavers also added that the slide is special because it is becoming a well-known attraction that is bringing the community together.
The height of the slide is a fun factor for people because it gives them a way to challenge themselves to climb to the top.
“You have to go through a challenge to go through the whole slide,” Adrian said. “The theory is that you get rewarded at the end because it is not easy as it looks to climb the whole slide.”
The grand opening for the slide will be held next Wednesday, July 15 at 2 p.m. The slide is located at Snow Hinton Park right off McFarland Boulevard by the main playground and walking trail.