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Richville celebrates playground opening

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RICHVILLE — The village on Saturday will celebrate the reopening of the School Street playground, whose construction was jump-started by a win of $5,000 in an online Reader’s Digest contest.

“It was the springboard for all the other donations when it looked like it was an achievable goal,” said Lila M. Youngs, one of the organizers and manager of Richville Free Library, which sponsored several computer nights during the contest for residents to vote.

Richville, with a population of 323, took 17th place in the magazine’s “We Hear You America” contest.

Family and friends from across the country helped by voting on their computers.

“It’s just unbelievable how many votes you had to have to hit that 17th place and stay there,” Mrs. Youngs said.

When the contest began, organizers already had raised several thousand dollars and had a commitment of $5,000 from the village to replace condemned playground equipment.

“We had started, but we were treading water,” Mrs. Youngs said. “We didn’t have a lot of money and it just looked like it was going to take so much, people were discouraged. Then it really began to be interesting.”

After the contest win, the group received a $3,600 grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northern New York, $800 each from Price Chopper and Corning, and a number of smaller monetary gifts from local businesses. Organizers raised $2,600 at a spring fling event and had a number of raffles and other fundraisers. Sales of playground equipment dropped the price organizers had expected to pay by $7,000.

“That made it a goal we could reach. It all came together,” Mrs. Youngs said. “It’s been a community effort; everybody of every age has done something.”

The group so far has raised just under $25,000 to pay for swings, monkey bars, a bouncy horse, a four-seat bouncer and tube and slide, but still is working on finding money for equipment appealing to older children.

“We would like to add to it some more,” said Donna M. Deets, organizer of Saturday’s fall festival. “This way, the kids have something for a change. We’re hoping this will be something for the village of Richville and bring us together a little more.”

The grand opening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will include face and pumpkin painting, a bouncy house, a silent auction, music and crafts.

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