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New Shasta Park playground big hit with kids
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Spencer Jackson along with his cousins, Courtney and Jacob, take a spin on Shasta Park’s new merry go-round. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Hundreds of youngsters had fun under the sun on the new playground equipment at Shasta Park over the three-day weekend.

Many came with family to the latest addition to the central Manteca park.

According to Keith Jackson, it was this sort of atmosphere he had hoped to create after leading a neighborhood group into a partnership with the City of Manteca Parks and Recreation several months ago.

“What’s happened here is magical,” he said.

Gone are the bike tracks left from area kids converting the desolate playground into a make-shift BMX track. “It used to look like something out of a Mad Max (sci-fi) movie,” Jackson said.

Months ago, he and his wife, Helen Hankal-Jackson, spearheaded the efforts to convert the place into a state-of-the-art playground.

They were able to secure a grant from the state to incorporate recycled tires rather than wood chips for the playground surface.

They also managed to raise $20,000 from various donors. Included were notables such as Manteca Unified school board member Vern Gebhardt and Gary Dei Rossi, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

Each of the donors will be recognized at the official dedication ceremony planned for the spring.

On Monday, Logan, Jackson’s 10-year-old daughter, wanted to take advantage of the spring-like weather to celebrate her birthday. After an anxious waiting period, she, along with her brother, Spencer, not to mention cousins and friends scaled, swung, and even teetered on the new playground equipment.

“I liked that spinning thing,” said Logan’s cousin, Jacob, describing the merry-go-round.

His sister, Courtney, enjoyed playing on the cable equipment resembling a pyramid.

In fact, Keith Jackson said the “pyramid” design mimic that of the old rocket ship slide that once occupied the playground.

In turn, he’s hoping that this will serve as a focal point for children and family to play and gather while creating community pride.

“Here’s a place in these tough economic times where you come and have fun. And it’s free,” said Jackson.