The Vikings held the team's 10th annual playground build and school visit, with this one coming at Falcon Heights Elementary School.
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — The 80-pound bags of Quickrete concrete mix said "Just Add Water!"
Mother Nature readily obliged, not just at the concrete mixing station, but across Curtiss Field in Falcon Heights on Wednesday where more than 200 volunteers teamed to install a new playground.
The rain fell for several hours of the 10th annual Playground Build partnership between the Vikings, The Toro Company and KaBOOM! Lightning in the area caused a brief delay just as buses filled with all Vikings players and coaches arrived after practice.
The Vikings players, coaches and General Manager Rick Spielman turned the lightning storm into an opportunity to make a special visit to Falcon Heights Elementary School.
Volunteers from the City of Falcon Heights and the neighborhood returned to the playground site after the threatening weather passed to finish the remaining tasks.
The one-day task of completing the playground — without machines or power tools — will have a cascading effect of brightening the lives of youth and families for days and years to come. The goal was achieved through wet instead of sweat equity, community spirit and teamwork that quickly developed between workers assigned to different tasks.
"We're very excited to be in Falcon Heights building a playground at Curtiss Field," said Judson McNeil with the Bloomington-based Toro Company. "This is a great community snuggled in between St. Paul and Minneapolis. This playground had not been renovated in 15 or more years so we are making a great future for the young people in this community."
At the concrete station, the bags were placed into wheelbarrows, busted open so the mix could be sprayed with the other type of garden hose and churned by garden hoes until they were the right consistency to provide footings for a swingset, slide and a massive play area where another crew that included Ring of Honor former linebacker and current college scout Scott Studwell helped direct the cement into the post holes.
Teams tasked with spreading approximately 50,000 square feet of mulch-like safety surfacing turned what started as "Mount Curtiss" into a molehill. Several volunteers, including Executive Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski and pro scout Jeff Robinson scaled the peak to send down materials to teammates, including Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren, who shoveled the material onto tarps that were lifted by three or four volunteers at a time to deliver inside the playground's perimeter wall.
View images from the 10 playgrounds the Vikings have help build, an initiative put in place by the Wilfs after they bought the team.
Another crew, including members of the Vikings turf team, built a pavilion, and other crewmembers kept the construction site clean throughout the day.
The Vikings Playground Build is a tradition that started in 2006, a year after the Wilf family purchased the team. Since inception of the partnership with Toro that year, more than $692,000 has been donated to positively impact almost 30,000 children across the Twin Cities. The event also has cemented itself as one of the favorite community efforts for Vikings staff members.
Warren said the location of this year's Playground Build was suggested by the University of Minnesota's Good Neighbor Fund. As part of the partnership in which the Vikings played home games at TCF Bank Stadium in the 2015-16 seasons while a new stadium is being built, the Vikings committed up to $90,000 in grants for 2015 to a partnership fund (click here for more information on the U of M Good Neighbor and Vikings Partnership Fund).
"We're so grateful for the referral from the University of Minnesota Good Neighbor Fund and glad to be in Falcon Heights," Warren told Vikings.com. "We want to give a special thanks to the Wilf family, Mark, Zygi, Lenny and Jon and all the Wilf family for continuously supporting this fantastic cause and allowing us to do this wonderful community event in conjunction with Toro and KaBOOM! because so many kids need to play and exercise and they'll be happy that we took the time, energy and effort to leave a legacy."