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Our Boundless Community

Bodie's Place, a "boundless" playground, opens Saturday.

After three years of fundraising, dedication and planning, Bodie's Place is near completion.

Lisa and John Vaccino's 8 year-old son, who has cerebral palsy, were at a park called Hannah's Dream in November 2007.

"The park (in New Haven) gave us the opportunity to interact together as a family for the first time at an outdoor recreational facility", said John Vaccino. "Our son was not very verbal at the time, but kept saying how much he liked the park."

The couple sprung into action and held an informal meeting at their home in January 2008 in hopes of reaching out to the community and organizations.

"Twenty-four people attended our first meeting; it was really a grassroots effort," said Vaccino.

A meeting with Mayor James Richetelli, Jr. was held in hopes of the city donating the land for use.

"We never would have been able to do this without the mayor's support. He has been with us from the start,"  Vaccino said.

After years of hard work by the entire community, Bodie's Place -- named after their son, Johnny "Bodie" Vaccino -- will have its grand opening 11 a.m. Saturday at Eisenhower Park at 725 North St.

Bodie's Place's board will transfer ownership of the playground back to the city, but plan to be highly involved and  help maintain it physically and financially.

"Organizations, companies, big and small, schools, and even children donated and helped us reach our goal of $400,000," Vaccino said.

The 16,000-square-foot park  features "Poured-In-Place" surfacing which will allow wheelchairs to access the equipment. Creative Recreation is the primary builder and installing Miracle Equipment, which will allow all children with special needs to have full access to fun. Swinging benches, sand tables, a sensory garden and a beautiful mural are just some of the features of Bodie's Place. 

"We have a volunteer network of over 800.  This was a total collaborative effort of the community," Vaccino said.

www.bodiesplace.org is still accepting donations to help fund a water fountain and a security surveillance system.

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