The Imagination Station turns 25: Looking back at the amazing story of how it was built

This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the Imagination Station, the beautiful playground on the banks of the Mill Pond in downtown Brighton.

Your children might have been enjoying the playground for years, but a quarter-century later, you need to know the incredible story of how it came about.

The playground project was spearheaded by a woman named Jackie Price, who first pitched the idea in 1994. A year later, the entire playground was built over five days – May 3-7, 1995 – as more than 1,300 community volunteers came together in a massive community build.

The column below was written by Buddy Moorehouse and appeared in the Brighton Argus and Livingston County Press on May 10, 1995. It tells the story of how the playground was built, and it interesting to see how many of the predictions he made at the time came true.

With the community’s help, the Imagination Station dream comes true

As a community, Brighton Is just a little more special this week than it was before.

And it’s not because we’ve got our beautiful new playground. It’s because of how we got our beautiful new playground.

Downtown Brighton is home now to the nicest playground I’ve ever seen – the Imagination Station. It’s a wonderful place that will give delight and pleasure to kids for generations to come. And it all happened because Brighton is a special place filled with special people.

If you were on hand Sunday afternoon to see the playground officially opened, you couldn’t help but burst with pride over the whole thing. And the real story here isn’t that Brighton has a new playground. The story is how Brighton got this new playground.

What we witnessed last week was unprecedented in Livingston County, unprecedented in most communities. What we witnessed was over 1,300 volunteers coming together for the good of the community. Can you think of any other project in this county which can compare in size and scope?

The story in the newspaper on May 10, 1995.

All week, the construction site hosted people from all walks of life, all segments of the community, all parts of town.

There were moms who have kids in school, kids who will no doubt get plenty of use out of the Imagination Station. There were grandfathers who still consider themselves to be pretty handy with a drill or saw and proved it. There were businessmen and businesswomen from Brighton who don’t have any kids, but who just wanted to be part of the fun.

There were over 1,300 people who spent the week swinging hammers, pouring dirt, drilling holes, using dewatering pumps or other industrial pumps, serving food, watching kids, and doing everything else that needed doing. All so that Brighton’s kids could have the nicest playground I’ve ever seen.

This whole thing was simply an incredible process from start to finish. And I’ve never been more proud of this community than I was this past week. Many of you probably feel the same way.

Somebody described this as an old-fashioned barn-raising, and the comparison fits. The community came together last week to raise a playground, and they did one heck of a job with it.

Again, though, the real story isn’t the playground. The real story is the people. The hundreds and hundreds of people who came together to make this thing a reality.

People like Jackie Price, who came up with the idea for a community-built playground in Brighton, then gave up a year of her life to make it happen. If Brighton gave out a Citizen of the Year award, it would go to Jackie Price. She’s an incredible woman, and thanks to her, Brighton now has an incredible playground.

And people like Kate Lowry, who spearheaded the drive to raise $70,000 to build this thing. Without Kate, there wouldn’t have been a whole lot of playground equipment to build.

And people like Janet Joseph, one of the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who gave up a day or two or three last week to help build this thing. Janet gave up her day last Thursday to serve as the “dirt foreman” on the project and seemed to be loving every second of it.

And people like Mickey Stanley, a Brighton resident who spent hours last week donating his skilled construction labor to the project. Mickey worked on the playground with the same hands he used to field ground balls and pop-ups for the 1968 Detroit Tigers.

And people like Lauretta Miller, who spearheaded many of the child-care duties last week. Lauretta and the child-care workers kept the kids occupied while their moms and dads worked on the playground.

We could list all the people who had something to do with the Imagination Station, and It would more than fill up this page. To each and every one of them, though, my thanks go out. You’ve all helped make Brighton an even better place.

As for the playground, if you haven’t seen it yet, do so. Right now! It’s absolutely fabulous, and I’m guessing that if’s going to bring droves of people downtown.

The Imagination Station will be more than just a great place for kids to play; it’ll be a major attraction to downtown Brighton, and the merchants and restaurants will certainly be reaping the rewards.

I can see plenty of families coming into downtown Brighton now to spend the day. The kids can play at the Imagination Station, and the folks can shop and browse at the stores. And If there are still any stores downtown that aren’t open on evenings and Sundays, well, they just must not care about making money.

In any case, what we showed last week is that Brighton is, indeed, a special community filled with special people. And thanks to them, Brighton now has a special playground.

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