By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
More than two years later, there was a sense of nearing the end of the road.
Tuesday night marked the last regular meeting of the Community Build Task Force, formed in early 2013 as plans got underway for what became known as the Big Toy play structure.
The Big Toy is being built by hundreds of community volunteers over a five day period next Wednesday, June 10 through Sunday, June 14 at Keizer Rapids Park.
Those wanting to volunteer can sign up at www.keizerbigtoy.org or can show up between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on any of the five build days, for any amount of time.
With the build just a week away, project general coordinator Mark Caillier gave an update on where things stand.
“The site is ready,” Caillier said. “It’s ready to go. It looks great.”
Tents were expected to be put up Thursday afternoon, with posts being put up over the weekend. Three semis full of material arrived at the site on Monday.
“We got the slides, tubes, iron, lumber, all kinds of stuff,” Caillier said.
Keizer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will be helping with security, first aid and parking during the build. There will be signs for parking and each tent will have signs to make it clear what will be happening where.
Caillier said there will be 150 parking spaces, plus overflow parking by the far side of the dog park and by the amphitheater, in the area where the Big Toy was originally going to be built.
As he did the day before, Caillier emphasized when volunteers are most needed.
“Right now we really need Wednesday through Friday,” he said. “Everything we do in those three days sets the tone for how much will get done.”
Ron and Kim Freeman, who are coordinating volunteers, both noted volunteers are indeed filling slots for the first three days.
“The majority of phone calls have been for those days,” Ron Freeman said. “A lot of volunteers are signed up. Kim’s been making a lot of calls and getting multiple shifts from a lot of people.”
Freeman noted 100 new volunteers signed up at the Big Toy booth during last month’s Iris Festival. As of Tuesday, he said 330 volunteers were signed up. Project leaders have previously said there are about 1,500 total shifts to fill.
“We got a great response from the Iris Festival booth,” Freeman said. “Tanya (Hamilton) and Meredith (Coy) handed out thousands of fliers during the parade. We’re looking for a big push. People can just show up on the day of the build. Tell your friends to sign up online. It’s such an easy process.”
Volunteers will be fed throughout the five-day build.
Dave Bauer told the Keizertimes he has all the food service workers he needs to ensure volunteers are well fed. Menus are set, supplies have been donated and now all that needs to be done is the cooking.
“Thanks to several churches and many merchants, there will be breakfast, lunch and dinner all five days of the build,” Bauer said. “Construction volunteers will be getting a little bit of everything from down home cooking to internationally inspired meals. It’s now time for the action to begin.”
Though funds will continue to be raised after the play structure is built, fundraising co-chair Janet Carlson said 86 percent of the $319,009.80 needed for the project has been raised, with $45,644 left to raise.
“If we raise more than needed, that will just be a down payment for the rubber surface in the next round,” the county commissioner said.
Caillier said Makita is donating a number of tools, but volunteers are encouraged to bring tools such as tape measures and hammers.
“We have one week, guys,” said Marlene Parsons, the newly married chair of the task force. “This is so exciting.”
Project leaders will be meeting at the site at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening to go over last minute details.
Dee Moore contributed to this story.