Marines and volunteers build a new playground for Aikahi

2nd Lt. Keith Toucey
2nd Lt. Keith Toucey
Nicholas Rodgers
Nicholas Rodgers

KAILUA (KHNL) - On President's Day, many spent the day at the beach or the park. But in Windward Oahu, hundreds could be found at a Kailua playground that hasn't even been built.

The Aikahi community has been without a playground since last August, when their old but unique one was torn down. But after months of organization, fund raising and community efforts, a new playground is taking shape this holiday weekend.

The sounds of saws replace the laughter of children at Aikahi School.

Instead of elementary age students playing here, 300 US Marines worked in shifts, making it their mission to piece together a new playground.

"This is community we live in, while we are here, we want to make the community as great as it can be. These are the people who support us while we are gone and support us when we come back," said 2nd Lt. Keith Toucey, with Marine Corp Base Hawaii at Kaneohe.

Joining the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, were a hundred parents and other members of the community, along with the kids who will use the finished playground. Children came up with the idea for more than just monkey bars but a park that reflects Hawaii. One that will have a volcano, palm tree houses and even a gecko slide.

"We all got to help in design and we get to help build it. Its not a road crew or work crew builds it for us, we actually get to build it," said Aikahi 6th grader Nicholas Rodgers.

The new playground will have more than just a place to play, but also a place to perform. There is a stage shaped like a turtle complete with flippers that faces the seating area.

Putting together this playground hammers home to kids the importance of being a part of their community. And friends of Aikahi playground hope, this unique structure will continue to be a learning place.

"This is going to be an outdoor classroom for our school but on weekends and after school we invite the entire island to our playground because the entire island has helped us build it," said Kailua parent, Kimi Eggers.

This huge project was made of 95 % recycled materials and pieced together with love by the community. When complete, their playground is once again expected to be source of pride for Aikahi.

Over a hundred thousand dollars has been raised for this big project.

But they are not done yet. Next month there will be a big concert at the completed park to showcase the brand new playground and improvements.