The Columbia County Library and Memorial Gardens Park were teeming with guests Saturday during the Books Alive extravaganza and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new playground area.
The event kicked off with a presentation by award-winning children's author Donald Crews, who also helped several county officials and others involved with the upgrades at the Memorial Gardens conduct the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The playground is designed for ages 5 to 12 and features a slide, swing set, jungle gym and climbing wall. The park's other playground is targeted for ages 2 to 5.
"It's nice to have some place to bring the kids that's nice and shady," said Christina Ayres, of Martinez. "It's beautiful, so far."
Other new park features include a 20-by-40-foot pavilion. A zero-depth water fountain will open this spring.
Ayres came to the library to return books, but her three daughters were soon busy playing on the new playground. Her daughter, Katie Ayres, a third-grader at Belair Elementary School, said her favorite additions were the climbing wall and a stationary component resembling a pogo stick.
"I think it's great, because there's lot of different ways around (the playground)," she said. "There's different activities, too."
Many children seemed to enjoy the construction and maintenance vehicles on display and a petting zoo exhibit from Graystone Ranch Wildlife Education Center. Guests could view and sit inside an Army helicopter, a hot-air balloon basket, a Gradall excavator, a street sweeper and other vehicles.
"It was cool to experience how they would fly every single day," 8-year-old Joshua Williams said about the helicopter.
Hot-air balloons rides were offered Saturday and Sunday at nearby Evans Town Center Park.
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