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Firefighters auxiliary helps bring the laughter back to Audubon park

Jen Savig, from left, Lisa Lofgren and Sara Leitheiser helped raise money with the rest of the Fire Department Auxiliary for new playground equipment at the Audubon park.1 / 2
brothers Carter and Derrik Savig have some fun in the toy fire truck at the Audubon park.2 / 2

When members of the Audubon Fire Department women's auxiliary group want something, they go after it until it's gotten.

In 2000, when Jen Savig was on the Audubon City Council, she started raising money, to pair with a Department of Natural Resources grant, to build new playground equipment for the city park. Needless to say, the grant fell through, as did the new playground equipment.

But last year, the auxiliary decided to take on the cause again, and Savig is again playing a role.

In about 10 months, the grouped raised $62,000 from businesses and individual donors, and along with a grant for $34,000 from Midwest Place Gates, they were able to install several pieces of playground equipment at the park and give the existing swings a facelift.

Not only did the auxiliary ask for donations, it held rummage and bake sales, visited businesses, sent out letters and put up jars around town to collect cash.

"There were pictures of what the old equipment looked like and what the new equipment would look like," Auxiliary member Sara Leitheiser said of what they showed donors when out asking for money.

But the pictures didn't do it justice.

"I've had calls from people thanking us for the park," Savig said.

The neighbors call and are happy to see families and children using the park again, which also houses a picnic shelter and baseball fields.

They see "parents sitting on benches visiting while kids play. It's bringing the community back together," she said of the calls.

Auxiliary member Lisa Lofgren said there are "different people every day" at the park using the new equipment.

The park improvements were made with the intention of adding more as funds are available. People have suggested a pool, a skate park or a basketball court, but right now, there are no definite plans in the works.

There will be a grand opening on Friday, Aug. 19, at 5:30 p.m. to showcase the new playground equipment -- and the event will include a fire truck because of the huge support of the fire department.

Everyone is welcome to come out and play.