A group of big-thinking volunteers planted a seed at Port Neches Park. After tending to their project virtually by the day since then, the volunteers witnessed the seed grow to impressive heights. And then, on Sunday, April 21, 1996, it bloomed into a marvel for all the children of the area – Tugboat Island. Tugboat Island is a playground in Port Neches Park that was designed by children, built by volunteers and funded by donations. It is ADA accesible as designed by the architects. It is reported to be the third largest playground of its type in the nation. The looks on the faces of the children trying it out for the first time that Sunday is the proof that it is the best fun spot around.
The grinches and grouches may argue that a playground is a superfluous frill that isn’t worth the $160,000 raised by the community or the many thousands of hours put in by more than 1,000 volunteers.
But those who would be so shortsighted can’t see that Tugboat Island is evidence of a community that cares about its future and is willing to work together – and work hard – to accomplish a goal. It is evidence that thinking big can produce big results. It also shows that including everyone, down to letting the children who will play on Tugboat Island draw conceptual designs that were incorporated into the final plan, can bring a segmented community together in a team effort.
Tugboat Island is built of stout timbers with the workmanship of some of the best craftsmen in the area. It should be a bright spot for Port Neches and the entire area for many years to come.
It will not be hard for visitors to the playground to recognize some of the benefits of Tugboat Island in the happy faces of the children cavorting on a spectacular playground.
But to those who shared the work, Tugboat Island Playground will stand as a testament to a community that puts its money and sweat into following a vision to make this area just a little better for everyone.