RIDGWAY – Ever wonder what it would be like to be a mountain guide, leading expeditions to fiercely remote and beautiful corners of the earth? Come find out at a slideshow presentation by Ridgway-based mountain guide Chad Peele at the Sherbino Theater this Friday, Jan. 24, starting at 7 p.m.
Peele grew up in North Carolina and starting his guiding career in Alaska in 1996. A certified Rock and Alpine Guide through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), he guides climbers all around the world from the ice of Ouray to the thin air of Mt Everest. He has lived, worked and played in the Ridgway area for over eight years.
At his slideshow this Friday night, Peele will take his audience on a journey around the world, showcasing the beauty and adventure of a traveling mountain guide. The show, aptly titled “The Wanderings of a Mountain Guide”, is a fundraiser for the Ridgway Elementary School Playground Initiative.
The initiative has been underway since last fall, when a task force formed to come up with design parameters for a new playground at Ridgway Elementary School. Working with the Ridgway School District and the Town of Ridgway (which is the fiscal agent), the task force recently submitted a $100,000 grant request to Great Outdoors Colorado to help pay for the project. The grant award will be announced in April.
Ridgway Elementary School Principal Trish Greenwood is optimistic about the grant application’s prospects.
“We have had a great outpouring of community support, and general interest in this project,” she said, adding that grant writer Danika Gilbert has extensive experience with GOCO grants – both writing them, and evaluating applications from other communities. “She has a very clear picture of what needs to be included,” Greenwood said.
The Playground Task Force worked collaboratively with two graduate students from the Colorado Center for Community Development at CU-Denver to come up with proposed design elements for the new playground. Greenwood said she is particularly excited about the prospect of creating an outdoor learning environment with shade tents, to provide respite from the strong sunlight that bakes the playground, and fries kids’ skin, in the spring and fall.
“I am very hopeful we can incorporate that space,” she said.
The current playground is dominated by a blacktop area, and a playing field where kids typically run and play soccer. The new design preserves these aspects while creating a more park-like, multi-use play space. “It has a path that goes around the perimeter, more benches, trees, climbing elements, and different uses of the blacktop area for some athletic and nonathletic activities,” Greenwood said. “It has a little fairy play area, an area for climbing, an enclosed area just for preschoolers, and even a zipline.”
It also includes a climbing structure in the shape of a dragon, to honor the recently deceased Zina Lahr, a passionately creative young woman from Ouray who recently died in hiking accident. She had many friends in Ridgway and Ouray, “who want to see her spirit carried on,” Greenwood said.
One of the Playground Task Force’s most crucial functions thus far has been to raise $5,000 in matching funds for the GOCO grant. This goal has recently been achieved, Greenwood said. Now, the group is focusing on raising additional money, beyond what may come in through the grant, so that as many design elements as possible can be realized in the new playground.
“The playground will cost more than $100,000,” she explained.
With Chad Peele in the spotlight at this Friday’s fundraiser, Greenwood hopes to capture a different kind of audience than that which has attended other playground initiative fundraising events.
“There is so much talent in mountaineering in this town,” Greenwood said. “We are hoping we will attract a mix of mountain folk who are interested in Chad’s adventures, to come out and support the playground.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $10. The event also includes a silent auction.
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