Just over 20 years ago, the young children of Signal Mountain were sad because they wanted a big playground where they could run in the woods for hours and hours. The great Mayor of Walden, Ken Bell, heard their cries and set out to make their dream come true. So, he sent out notice throughout the mountain villagers that he wanted to put in a small picnic area for families, as well as a swing set and seesaw for the kids. He asked Jane Jones if she would help with the project and the rest is history....
At the time, Jane had 2 small daughters and was expectant with her 3rd. She saw this as an opportunity to do something really fantastic, so much bigger and grander than the Mayor could ever have imagined. She set out to make the best playground anyone had ever seen!
She visited many playgrounds in the region, and culminated all the best ideas as a foundation for brainstorming with architect Kit Clews with Learning Structures, a community built playground company out of Portsmouth, N.H. Together, they came up with the plans for a playground which seemed like an impossible task because it was to be built in the solid dense woods on the irregular slopes behind the Town Hall of Walden.
So it all started... Weekend after weekend, Jane and Andy Jones, along with the Mayor and mountain citizens Russell Robertson, Chris Hetzler, Jon Thorstenson, Phillip Picket, and Steve DiMisa, started chainsawing and brush whacking the woods to expose the site. Slowly, the great possibilities came into view. Thus were born the ideas for the longest slide the architect had ever built (40 ft) as well as the tremendous replica of the Walnut Street Street bridge, the 50 ft zip lines, the W road footpath, the Chattanooga Choo Choo, and lots of play forts, swing sets and balance structures. Jane wanted it to be spread out to encourage running and creative play, as well as to accommodate large groups of kids without feeling crowded. Also, preserving the big trees was important to maintaining a wooded feel and keeping kids out of the sun on hot summer days.
With the help of Melissa Morgan, Sydney Roberts, Alison Hoffman, Peggy Hixson, Deseret Ward, Sugar Wheeler, Pam Fisher, Carla Harrison, Nancy Barron, Jill Yetter and Cari Prater, this Pumkin Patch Committee began the work of spreading the news about the plans to build the Pumpkin Patch. They spent one and a half years raising the money, getting all sorts of donated items, and organizing for the big build.
On a beautiful week in April, the 24-28, 1996, people came from far and wide to give their time and energy into making the Pumpkin Patch as we know it now. Hundreds of people and groups came from the greater Chattanooga community each of the 5 days. 3 hot meals a day were served, and work was done from 7 am til 10 pm. It went off seamlessly, and almost like magic, the playground rose up. It was not only a thing of beauty, but the community spirit that permeated the week was tremendous. Everyone who participated felt a great attachment to the project, a sense of ownership, and many friendships were made among the workers. It was more fun than anyone could have ever imagined!!!
The Pumkin Patch has been a destination playground for 19 years now, and thousands upon thousands of children from far and wide consider it the best playground around and their favorite place to go. But, though the playground has survived well the years and years of pounding feet and laughter, it is in need of repair and updating, to make it fresh, to match new safety standards, and to make it better than ever.
Together, as before, this community will come together to make the Pumpkin Patch the greatest playground around, and build it to last another 20 years of kids worth of fun!!
The Pumpkin Patch Playground
Our Community. our park. our memories.
“MY GIRLS LOVE THE PUMPKIN PATCH!”
The Pumpkin Patch was the first playground my husband & I took our 1 1/2 year old to for her first park adventure! Now that she is 4 and loves running from one attraction to next, the big slide and all the different things to climb on. It feels like a tree house, a child's dream! We now have two girls and spend a lot of time here and love all the cool shade in the summer.
-Lindsay Wolford, Mom of Madison (4) & Lillian (2)