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The Backyard open for play: CHECK OUT OUR NEW VIDEO!

happy kids scramble across a bridge heading deep into the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center's Backyard playground Tuesday morning.3 / 6
the backyard at the DLCCC in Detroit Lakes officially opened Tuesday morning with hundreds of kids trying out the new facility.4 / 6
AN IMPROMPTU GAME OF WHIFFLE BALL broke out Tuesday morning in The Backyard's new youth gymnasium, which features a permanent baseball diamond built into the floor.5 / 6
It was all smiles on the faces of city, Chamber and community center officials when they gathered Tuesday morning for the ribbon cutting ceremony that launched the official grand opening of The Backyard, the new $2.5 million addition at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center.6 / 6

When Steve Daggett first became involved in the fund-raising campaign for the new Backyard addition at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center, he had no doubts that it would be a hit with the community when it was finished.

But even after months of co-chairing the fundraising committee and hearing all the positive comments from the public, he admitted that the finished product still went "above and beyond" his expectations.

"It's so fun to see the kids' reaction," he said at Tuesday's grand opening event for The Backyard. "When you open the doors and the kids go running in, beyond excited ... it's just so cool."

In his remarks prior to the ribbon cutting that marked the facility's official opening, DLCCC board chairman Larry Buboltz said that the community center has already seen "unbelievable usage" since its opening just a decade ago, with between 250,000-300,000 check-ins.

But with the addition of The Backyard -- which incorporates the Kids' Playland, the second biggest indoor children's playground in the state -- Buboltz believes that usage will escalate even further.

"How heartwarming is this?" he said later, as he watched all the kids using the Playland and adjacent youth gymnasium for the first time.

"This (The Backyard) is going to open up the DLCCC for a whole new group of young people," Buboltz added, noting that he hopes it brings in people from neighboring communities as well.

Daggett echoed Buboltz's sentiments, noting that the new Backyard, as well as the DLCCC as a whole, is intended to be a regional facility, not just a local one.

"This is a heck of a resource," he said. "It's amazing."

Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk, who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony along with Buboltz, said that he sees the DLCCC and its new Backyard addition as a real community asset.

"It's a huge asset in terms of our quality of life," he said. "But it's just as much of an economic development tool."

The DLCCC is the kind of facility that can attract new businesses into the community, as well as people, he said.

But besides that, "it's going to be so much fun for the kids -- it's really neat," he said.

Community center CEO Stu Omberg said "it feels wonderful" to have the Backyard project completed, and seeing the public's reaction was "a thrill."

"All the reactions so far have been amazed and happy," he added.

"We've already had one whiffleball game and one kickball game in the youth gym, and right now I think they're playing basketball ...  It's here, it's open and I think everybody's happy."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454