Two years after a fire destroyed a playground at Admiral Kidd Park in West Long Beach, the city has restored it with new features and improved accessible enhancements.
At a grand reopening event this Saturday, Aug. 19, the city invites the public to celebrate the new equipment, which it has already revealed on social media. The new and improved park playground features a zip line, friendship swings that allow for two people to swing together at the same time and a wheelchair-accessible Sway Fun glider.
Along with the new and improved equipment, the restoration also includes improvements to the park’s lighting, shade structures and landscaping, according to Public Works.
When the city broke ground on the new playground on March 31, 7th District Councilmember Roberto Uranga recalled the day he heard the news of the fire. “Two years ago my heart was broken, I woke up to find out that the playground had burned down,” he said.
On Sunday, July 18, 2021, the Long Beach Fire Department responded to the blaze at the park in the 2100 block of Santa Fe Avenue at around 2 a.m. and found the playground melted by flames. The playground was deemed a “complete loss,” and efforts to raise money for the new equipment were spearheaded by local nonprofit, Partners of Parks, after they discovered the playground was not covered by a warranty, and the city’s deductible insurance cost would be greater than the cost of the playground.
Fire officials never determined the cause of the fire, and according to LBFD spokesperson Capt. Jack Crabtree, “The investigation is closed, and no witnesses or suspects were identified.”
The initial fundraising goal was $1 million, and after managing to raise over $450,000, Partners of Parks ordered the new park equipment in April of last year. The city backfilled any of the $1 million that wasn’t covered through fundraising using Measure A.
The city restored the park’s original nautical-themed design for the rebuild, which was inspired by its namesake, Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The park site was formerly used by the armed forces during World War II, according to the city’s website.
Acknowledging the time it took to restore the playground, Councilmember Uranga said at the groundbreaking that he intended to get to work as soon as possible but, “knowing bureaucracy, its not that fast. It does take time.”
The grand reopening event will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 2125 Santa Fe Ave.