Looking back 20 years ago this month, the Fortress of Fun playground was being built at the Lou Dennis Community Park in Newburgh, all due to two local moms who came up with the idea to have a community playground built for the kids.  

Fortress of Fun Playground Sept. 1998

Stacy Whitehead and Mary Jo Cashel-Cordo had the vision and leadership to pursue having a playground built by the community and the children in the Newburgh and Chandler schools would design it!  With the assistance of Leather & Associates, the same company who currently is helping with Mickey's Kingdom playground along the riverfront in Evansville, the project was a total success!

The process all began 18 months prior to the build in September of 1998 with volunteers from the Newburgh community.  Committees were formed, with myself included, as I became one of the project's public relations co-coordinator's along with Margaret Dennis. Together we got the word out about a playground needed for our kids through yard signs, billboards, newspaper, radio, and more. (This was before Facebook, twitter, etc.)  We needed everything - people, materials, tools, food and more.  One of the coolest things about this playground was each child at the elementary schools gave us input on what they wanted on their playground.

After all those months and months of planning, the playground would be built September 16 - 20, 1998 where the community pool was located on Park Drive in Newburgh.  In the days that followed, project managers helped and guided hundreds and hundreds of volunteers that showed up to help paint, sand the wooden beams, drill the bolts, and more.

The 20th anniversary celebration of the Fortress of Fun took place Sunday, September 16th thanks to Marianne Wilsbacher and the Newburgh Park Pals.  I was reunited with some of the committee chairpersons who I haven't seen for many, many years!  I know all of us are deeply grateful for all the volunteers that came together 20 years ago to build a beautiful playground for the kids.

Pictured are some of the committee chairpersons that attended the 20th anniversary of the Fortress of Fun playground: (Left to right)

Fortress of Fun Committee chairpersons
  • Deb Turner
  • Judy Kropfl
  • Sue Melfi
  • Stacy Whitehead
  • Margaret Dennis
  • Jean Powers

Here's a video of what the Fortress of Fun playground looks like today in 2018!  Thanks to the Newburgh Park Pals for the maintenance and upkeep along with our local schools helping to pitch in with painting and other projects.

If you would like to help volunteer with the Park Pals, Inc. of Newburgh and the Newburgh Pool Pals for a new swimming pool, donations can be made at www.paypal.me/NewburghParkPals.  Also visit  Newburgh Park Pals on Facebook. For the Newburgh Pool Pals, visit HERE 

Park Pals/Pool Pals, Newburgh; credit by Deb Turner
Park Pals, Newburgh
Newburgh Pool Pals