TOP PHOTO: “This is one of the best days of my life,” said Craig Griffin, poster child for the Caryville Cares Inclusive Playground committee as he sat in a big dozer at Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

The community came together to break ground on the Caryville Playground project on Monday at noon across from Shoney’s.

By Charlotte Underwood 

CARYVILLE, TN (WLAF) – Members of the community gathered on Monday to break ground for the Caryville Cares Inclusive Playground. The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the property across from Shoney’s in Caryville where the playground will be built. 

The event was attended by community leaders and organization representatives who have committed to help fund the playground. Donors to the playground of over $10,000 were invited to take part in the ceremony. Those donors included: Lions Clubs International Foundation, Campbell County Government, the Town of Caryville Government, East Tennessee Lions Eye Bank, Peoples Bank of the South, and the South Campbell County Rotary Club. 

County commissioners and Campbell County Mayor Jack Lynch attended the event. Lynch said he was proud of the efforts and progress of the playground committee and the community. 

“When people work together they can make great things happen,” Lynch said. Caryville Mayor Bobby Stooksbury said the playground was a great thing for the children of Caryville and Campbell County.  

“You can never go wrong when helping children,” County Commissioner Chairman Johnny Bruce said. 

The project has been underway for roughly a year and the fundraising response from the community has been outstanding, according to playground committee chair Brandon Johnson.

He said reaching the groundbreaking point of the project felt “surreal.”

“When we started this project a year ago, we didn’t think we would break ground so soon; that shows the dedication of those involved and the love of the community,” Johnson said.

The playground is expected to cost approximately $500,000 to 600,000. Currently funds raised for the project total $350,000. Johnson said multiple more fundraisers would be coming up to help raise the remaining funds needed.

The Caryville Cares Playground Poster Child Craig Griffin also attended the event. Griffin has received medical care thanks to the local Shriners Club and will personally benefit from the playground.

Griffin said he was “super 100-percent excited” for the playground to be completed. Griffin has first dibs on using the slide once the playground is complete.  

Johnson said the groundbreaking was a huge step for the project and that with current funds raised they will be able to order more than $200,000 worth of playground equipment and start construction. 

Fundraising for other costs of the project such as installation and fencing will continue.  Johnson estimates the playground could be completed in 2023.

“If things continue and people keep stepping up with donations we could get it completed by summer, but it could take more than a year; a lot depends on donations and fundraising,” Johnson said.  

“We want to make sure it is done right and that it is a playground that can last for  generations,” Johnson said. 

The excavation work is being provided by KC Excavating, and the site plans were created by IRTEC. Both businesses are donating their services to the playground. According to Johnson, a few more key donors and a few more fundraisers need to happen to “make this dream a reality.” The playground committee has a “Dancing with the Stars” fundraiser planned for March. 

To learn more about the Caryville Cares Playground, visit HERE. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/29/2022-6AM)