The brilliant blue sky and high temperature were made-to-order for a waterpark opening.
Scores of supporters and swimsuit-clad young people joined an impressive array of Fairfax County officials, including Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, for the Saturday, May 21st opening of the Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee District Park. The sprayground is designed to be inclusive; a place where people with disabilities can enjoy the water with their friends and family members.
The Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund (JPMF) built the sprayground, and the Fairfax County Park Authority will operate it. JPMF raised the funds from a variety of individuals and businesses, as well as a $250,000 grant from the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. It was the largest amount the board has ever awarded, and the first time it has ever funded a capital project.
“We hope its model of inclusive recreation can be replicated,” said board chair Christy Crowther. “Thank you for letting kids be kids.”
Bob and Paola Pizzano started JPMF as a way to honor their developmentally disabled six-year-old son who drowned. They presented Crowther with a special picture in recognition of the board’s significant support. Most of the rest of the afternoon the Pizzanos were beaming while hugging family, friends and well-wishers. Paola often exclaimed, “Isn't this great?!”
Judging from the many smiles in the park, both wet and dry, it was. In an earlier interview, Paola Pizzano said the project “says a lot about the dedication that the county has to support special kids, special families, especially given the economic times.”
JPMF and the Fairfax County Park Foundation are working toward an expanded Family Recreation Area on the Lee RECenter grounds. Phase One of the plan for the area includes the sprayground, the fully accessible treehouse made possible by the Elisabeth Guerry Newton estate, and treehouse seating area funded by Springfield Toyota along with friends and family of the late landscape architect Robert Good. There is also a temporary picnic shelter. Phase Two will add a fully-accessible carousel and playground, along with a permanent picnic area.
Our Special Harbor Sprayground will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends beginning May 28th, then every day from June 20th to September 5th. Wednesday hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.