Beloved play area at Antioch Park to have grand reopening
Rustle up the buckaroos and experience some western flair during the much-anticipated April Grand Reopening of the Dodge Town play area in Antioch Park.
Johnson County Park & Recreation District officials have scheduled the event from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 21.
Plans include comments from local officials, and a “rope cutting” to carry through the western theme. After this, a lunch of “lil’ doggies” (hot dogs), chips, and water, will be served, and “The Marshal of Dodge Town” will be deputizing kids and passing out badges and bandanas.
“We wanted to have fun with it,” said JCPRD Marketing and Communications Manager Richard Smalley. “Multiple generations have grown up with Dodge Town and we now have parents who played at Dodge Town when they were kids and now they’re bringing their own kids to play there.”
Dodge Town closed in late September for an extreme makeover which included removing and replacing all the buildings, decking, and mulch.
They’ve all been replaced with new versions of most of the buildings, including the schoolhouse, bank, pony express, city hall with a clock tower, general store, and blacksmith shop.
New additions include a pour-in-place safety surface between the buildings, faux horses and a cow, a train station, complete with a shaded seating area for parents, and a stationary train play element for the kids.
The reconstruction project corrects issues of drainage and general disrepair. The much-loved play area was originally built in 1967, and countless children have explored the western town replica in the years since. It has been rebuilt three times previously.
With just 44 acres, Antioch Park opened in 1958 and is JCPRD’s oldest park. The park was rededicated in 2005 following major infrastructure improvements, facility upgrades, and lake and wetland enhancements.
It is consistently one of the district’s most popular parks, attracting up to 700,000 visitors each year.