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Small town, big project: Grant residents come together for Kidtopia Playground

GRANT – The Town of Grant, sitting atop Gunters Mountain in Marshall County, is really little more than a village. The 2020 census put its population at 1,039. In that small community, however, emerged a committed group that created what is now a centerpiece for the tranquil hamlet.

Kidtopia.

Sure, the town is named for a Civil War giant and former president as many area residents at the time supported the Union. It has a K-12 school that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places — Kate Duncan Smith DAR — the only such institute remaining owned and operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

About five miles north is Cathedral Caverns, developed as a tourist attraction in the 1950s and designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1972 and opened as a state park in 2000.

Those are all good anecdotes. But now, residents are taking pride in something else close to their collective heart – a children’s playground in this tiny enclave that covers less than two square miles.

Kidtopia.

Grant resident Corey Walker, who journaled the project of dressing up the playground, wrote that in a “display of community spirit and dedication to creating a better environment for children, residents and businesses of Grant and the surrounding communities have been actively involved in a series of projects aimed at enhancing and maintaining the Kidtopia Playground.”

Walker shared his Kidtopia Playground renovation story with 256 Today. Here are highlights from his musings:

  • Lara and JT Nance were applauded for their relentless efforts in clearing a substantial amount of leaf litter off the Kidtopia property on Dec. 16 last year (2023). This work totaled 15 hours of service to our community and a staggering 1,405 gallons of leaves being collected and moved off the property.
  • The spirit of community-service extended to the relocation of the new Kidtopia message board. Elizabeth Waldrop, Brad Guffey, Angela Maldonado, and Nora Torres Taz were acknowledged for their assistance, along with Grant Town Hall and Emily Looney for their support in organizing the sign’s storage and pickup. Looney collaborated with Elizabeth Waldrop to coordinate the effort.
  • Matthew Mangum, with a background in construction and electrical contracting, stepped forward to assist and volunteered to lead the message board assembly. He provided tools which allowed for efficiency and lower cost to the Kidtopia Playground Association. Mangum was also instrumental, alongside business owner Justin Harding, in installing the new message board. Kayla Cherry of Grant contributed some post hole diggers.
  • Preston Lamb also received commendation for his hard work after picking up over 400 gallons of leaves, making the area near the covered, picnic tables look pristine. The leaves went to Randy Boxley’s land, where they were scattered in the forest. We appreciate Randy’s commitment to helping Kidtopia keep vital organic matter on the mountain by allowing us to dump leaves there when needed.

“The collaborative efforts of these community members reflect a strong sense of pride and a shared commitment to creating a safe and enjoyable space for our children,” Walker wrote.

Next, the fifth annual Dan Robinson Memorial Run and After Party will be May 4 at Grant Town Park, 401 Kidtopia Park Road. The event is in memory of the late Dan Robinson, who was instrumental in the formation of the non-profit organization and the development of Kidtopia playground.

The proceeds will benefit an expansion to the Kidtopia playground that will provide accessible space and play structure to the park.

This year’s event will include a “Star Wars” costume contest for children and adults. The 5K and 10K events are USA Track and Field certified walk/run races, and both will commence at Grant City Park, winding through the scenic mountain town.

Register at https://runsignup.com/Race/AL/Grant/DanRobinsonMemorial5K by April 20 to guarantee a T-shirt. For information contact Phillip Goodson at [email protected]

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