By David Markham
A playful new “critter” arrived in Antioch Park’s Dodge Town Play area a few months ago this year and is in need of a name.
JCPRD is calling on the public, specifically young buckaroos under 12, to help name a new 1,500-pound nearly life-sized concrete statue of a horse which was installed at Dodge Town earlier this year.
The winner of the naming contest will receive a pizza party for up to 10 children at Dodge Town featuring an appearance by Park Police Officer Seth Salmans, who will portray the marshal of Dodge Town, including deputizing participants and being available for photos. Salmans was well received when he previously portrayed the marshal during the April 2018 rededication of Dodge Town.
Installation of the new horse at Antioch Park took place in early April and involved removing a section of Dodge Town’s pour-in-place safety surface, placing the horse at its new location to meet safety guidelines, and then repairing the surfacing.
“We were having issues with the spring rocker horses that were previously installed in that location,” explained Northeast Region Parks Manager Mike Dizney. “Someone was bending the rockers as far as they would go, resulting in the springs snapping. We were working with our playground vendor for replacement options and they offered this sculpture as a possibility. It was originally planned for a different project that the vendor was working on, but it was decided that the sculpture would not be useable there.”
The vendor ultimately discounted the price of the sculpture and included shipping in exchange for the opportunity to display the piece of play equipment at this year’s Kansas Recreation and Park Association Conference, which took place in early February in Topeka.
So far, young visitors have reacted very positively to the new arrival.
“I think the kids have really enjoyed this addition to Dodge Town,” Dizney said. “This feature adds to the experience of visiting an ‘old west town.’ Many of the smaller children are in awe because of how lifelike the horse appears.”
Name submissions for the horse statue are due by the end of the day on Sunday, July 26, and can be submitted at jcprd.com. Participants will be asked for their naming suggestion, plus contact information. Information submitted for this contest will not be used for any other purpose.
Once name suggestions have been submitted, JCPRD staff will par the list down to five favorites, and the public will get to vote on the final name. Watch for more information in the August issue of the monthly enewsletter, Explore JCPRD.
With just 44 acres, Antioch Park opened in 1958 and is JCPRD’s oldest park. The much-loved Dodge Town play area was originally built in 1967, and has been rebuilt three times. Countless children have enjoyed exploring the western town. The newest makeover involved removal and replacement of all the buildings, decking, and mulch. They were replaced with new versions the buildings, including the schoolhouse, bank, pony express, city hall with a clock tower, general store, and blacksmith shop. New additions included the pour-in-place safety surface between the buildings, a train station complete with a shaded seating area for parents, and a stationary train play element.