GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Laughter, cheers and smiles all marked a new beginning for Frasier Park in Gautier Saturday.
"They've been wanting this for a long time," said John Copeland, an area resident.
The City of Gautier officially opened a new set of play equipment for the park. It's a much happier scene than the one back in August. City officials arrived to announce plans to improve the park and found that temporary play equipment had been sawed in half in the middle of the night. The vandalism sparked fury among adults and sadness among children.
"I was disappointed that someone would do that to our park," said 12 year-old Ferrion Nixon.
"We were here in August. There was a little girl in tears because of what had happened to the playground," Gautier Mayor Tommy Fortenberry said. "But there's nothing like the sound of laughter and cheers of children."
The equipment cost $2,100 and was funded entirely through donations from corporations and community organizations.
"I'm so thankful the corporate community came together and helped build this for this community," Fortenberry said. "It's just a great day. You know, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. This is something to be really thankful for."
City leaders, corporate sponsors and community residents listened in to the dedication ceremony.
"I think this is going to be a neat place," said Gordon Gollott, the City Councilman who represents the area. "We're going to make it like all of the other parks in the city. We want to improve them all, and this is just the start of something good."
The city hopes it will be the first step in building up a community that in past years has felt forgotten.
"This means a lot to this community, and we've been wanting this for years," Copeland said. "This new administration is the only one prepared to do something for us."
"It's been a park that was close to my heart and all the councilman's heart, the city of Gautier's heart," Fortenberry said. "This is a park that needed a facelift, and this is just the very beginning of it."
"Y'all ought to be commended as a community, and this is yall's park," said Todd Trenchard, Executive Director of the Bacot-McCarty Foundation.
To many of the people here, it's more than a park. It's the cornerstone of a community.
"It means a lot for the adults to have some place to bring the children, to let the children have a place to enjoy themselves, in the community" said Copeland.
Fortenberry said future improvements could include renovating the basketball courts and installing permanent restroom facilities.