BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
The Renee Przybylski Memorial Spray Park was not open last summer at Clintonwood Park, but that will all change on May 18 with the park’s grand opening at 10 a.m.
A ribbon cutting will take place at 10:30 a.m. as part of Kids Day in the Park.
“Renee’s parents will have an opportunity to say some things as a lot of the supporters of the spray park are family and friends of theirs,” said Independence Township Parks, Recreation and Seniors Community Relations Coordinator Amy Laboissonniere. “Our director (Derek Smith) will say a few words and thank the people that helped us get here with the new park. He’s the one that led the charge on getting this spray park replaced. This is going to be a lot safer for everybody, and it’s going to run a lot better.
“The past couple years have been a little sketchy in terms of it running regularly. If nothing else, we’re hoping that every day will be glitch-free.”
The spray park has been at Clintonwood for 15 years, but the newest installment was built in 2017.
As part of the rejuvenated spray park, brick pavers and umbrella tables are available for purchase or to sponsor. Laboissonniere has more information and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-625-8223.
Przybylski was a day camp counselor at Clintonwood in the late 1990s and early 2000s who passed away after a cancer battle at the age of 23 on Dec. 1, 2001.
“She was really good with the kids, and everybody really loved her,” said Laboissonniere. “While she was working with us, she found out she had leukemia. She was a college student at the time in her early 20s, and she underwent treatment. She was getting ready to have tests for a bone marrow transplant, but they found out nothing was really working anymore, so she opted to not continue treatment and unfortunately, she passed away.”
After Przybylski died, her family received many donations and decided to put the money towards something for the kids at day camp. Thus, the spray park was born.
“Before we had the spray park, day camp was a little dry,” said Laboissonniere. “When it would get really hot in the summer, all the kids had were water balloons and sprinklers and stuff like that; Renee always wanted a water feature here. Her family donated the money and had a huge fundraising campaign to raise the rest of the money.”
That first spray park opened in 2004 and the new version was installed in 2017.
Admission to the spray park is $2 for Independence Township and Clarkston residents and $4 for non-residents. Kids Day is free. A maximum of 75 children can use the spray park at one time.
“We rarely meet that all at one time,” said Laboissonniere. “Sometimes in the summer, especially when it’s really hot, we do. The plan is that the kids go for 15 minutes and then the whistle blows and the kids kind of take turns. We don’t really have to make that happen very often. Right now, the park looks very bare with no water, no benches and no landscaping, no kids, but we’re really excited to have it and to get it up and running. Not having it open last summer kind of affected participation in a lot of our stuff, so to have it open this year, we’re really excited.”