VALPARAISO — Children can now hop aboard for active play when visiting Taltree Arboretum & Gardens thanks to a generous donation of train-themed playground equipment in the nonprofit’s Railway Garden.

The two-piece playground features climbing and crawling features, a slide, pretend play and more.

The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, contributed $13,000 for the project, the bulk of which was used for the equipment. Remaining funds were used for landscaping, future maintenance and benches to be added at a later date.

“The donor had never visited Taltree but found us online,” Executive Director Stephanie Blackstock said. “After talking with his family, he learned his grandkids visit Taltree and he wanted to help create something they could play on and enjoy.”

After learning about Taltree’s Railway Garden on, he decided on a train-themed playground children could explore and use for active play.

Taltree hosted a grand opening of the playground on July 15 with participants in the nonprofit’s Camp Quercus day camps and their families. The children, ranging in age from 6 to 12, used the equipment before it opened to the public.

Jessica Clond, of Valparaiso, attended the grand opening with her 6-year-old daughter, Julia. Julia is attending four weeks of Camp Quercus.

“It’s wonderful,” Clond said. “It’s beautiful, very special. I’ve never seen a train playground before. We live kind of out in the country and don’t have playgrounds nearby. This is very nice for the entire community, just a very nice addition.”

Taltree’s grounds and horticulture teams worked for weeks planning for the new equipment, installing it and planting the flower beds around it. The Camp Quercus children made a thank you card for the staff, who were onhand for the grand opening, in gratitude for their work in preparing the playground.

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