October 19, 2021

Dedicated to Rebuilding a Fun, Safe Playground

One of Hendricks County’s most popular play features is located right here in Brownsburg at Williams Park. Hundreds of volunteers, including Brownsburg Parks Administrative Assistant Beth Ford, built the Blast Off playground 21 years ago. This month, Beth will be back at the park as part of the team that will provide the first major renovation of the wooden structure in decades.

“I knew when we built Blast Off it would be extremely popular,” said Beth. “I live close by and visit the park often. I see lacrosse and soccer teams on the field, kids at Blast Off Playground and on the splash pad. The park is used all the time.”

The playground is so popular it draws visitors from Hendricks, Boone and Marion counties.

In 2000, Beth was an active mom of four young children. “We love the outdoors. We would visit different parks all the time and go hiking and camping. We would go to Arbuckle a lot and play in the creek – it was impossible to get the kids out of the creek!”

When Beth heard about the effort to build the playground, she immediately jumped onboard. “I’m a recreation major and I thought it was a great way to help out the Town.” Beth received her BS in recreation from Indiana University.

When her eldest child, Mauralynne, started classes at Harris Elementary (now Harris Academy), Beth began volunteering at the school. She also was well-known at St. Malachy Catholic Church, which she still attends. She put her connections to work and helped with fundraising efforts for the playground.

“As a volunteer, I helped to facilitate a golf tournament to raise money. The week of the actual build, I signed up to cut wood and did whatever chores needed to be done,” she said.

What was it like to see the completed playground?

“This park is a blessing. When the kids were little, I’d take them to 

other parks and think to myself, ‘A fence would be great. Then there would only be one way in and out and the kids wouldn’t wander off.’ Back in the day, play features were metal. I did notice once Blast Off was built other parks changed out the metal play features and went to other materials.”

Today, a new generation of Fords takes advantage of Blast Off Playground. “We take our three grandkids to the playground and the splash pad when they visit,” Beth smiled.

From Oct. 25 to 29, Beth will join the entire Parks Department, volunteers and representatives of Leathers & Associates, a New York-based company that specializes in custom outdoor play spaces, in replacing play features, posts and hardware.

“This is Phase 1 of a renovation that will replace the lumber with a recycled plastic material that looks like wood but requires less maintenance and stands up to weather more effectively,” said Parks Director Travis Tranbarger. “We want to retain the spirit of the original community build that created this great amenity by inviting the public to sign up to help refresh it.”

Beth is already hard at work coordinating volunteers for the activity, but she’s ready to grab a hammer or drill to help out. “I’ll do whatever they tell me to do!” she laughed.