LIMERICK PA – A young man, swinging a heavy sledgehammer with both hands, pulled his arms up in a wide arc Saturday (Sept. 25, 2010) and brought the tool crashing down onto the roof on a car parked at Manderach Memorial Playground in Limerick (PA) Township. Dominic Martorana, chairman of the township parks and recreation committee, calmly stood by and watched, but said he was surprised.

The Limerick Parks and Recreation Committee promoted controlled mayhem for a good cause Saturday (Sept. 25, 2010) during Limerick's annual Community Day.

He was not talking about damage already done to the car, however, or about the two additional swings the youth took at it only seconds later. Martorana expected those. In fact, the hammerer had paid for the destructive privilege.

Instead, Martorana expressed happy surprise over the number of businesses and individuals who, like the young man, seemed eager to offer financial support for improvements being planned for the playground, within Limerick Community Park at Swamp Pike and Zieglerville Road. “People are really enthusiastic about what we’re doing. Some companies we’ve approached have pledged big amounts, and I wouldn’t have guessed that,” he said.

The committee, and the township Parks and Recreation Department it advises, is attempting to raise $45,000 to help buy additional equipment for the 2-1/2-acre playground that was first constructed in the late 1990s. On their wish list: a Biggo-brand duo swing for the ages 5-12 portion of the playground, and a mini Biggo solo swing for the ages 2-5 area.

Those pieces, plus others and accompanying installation work, put the price of the entire project at more than twice the fund-raising goal, Martorana said. Other sources are contributing the remainder.

Given the current economic climate, it’s no small sum. Still, Martorana noted, Limerick area businesses in particular seem willing to step up for the cause. Several have expressed interest in buying 2-foot-by-2-foot custom-etched paving blocks, at a cost of $1,000 apiece, that will be installed in the park along with smaller sizes representing smaller, but no less earnestly appreciated, donations.

For those who wanted to be part of the effort but might not afford a memorial brick, well … that’s where the battered car came in.

A black Jeep Cherokee Sport wagon, with a bright red stripe running along the bottom third of both sides, proved to be an alluring target for young and old alike during Saturday’s annual Limerick Community Day event. Scrawled in white spray-painted capital letters, just above the stripe, were the challenging words, “Hit Me.” Any one and everyone was invited, for only a few dollars, to take a whack at the Jeep and give their money to the playground. Few could resist, and the day-long demolition did a brisk business.

The department bills Manderach as “the jewel” of Limerick’s four major parks. It is named for Lisa and Devon Manderach, mother-and-daughter township residents who were murdered during 1995 while shopping in a Collegeville clothing store. Community volunteers who wanted to create a memorial in their names convinced the Board of Supervisors to supply the land, and then raised $250,000 in cash and in-kind services during a two-year period to make the playground a reality.

The playground, now 12 years old, underwent a controversial major renovation during the past year. Much of the original wooden playground equipment purchased by Manderach supporters was replaced to some dismay with plastic construction that was deemed both safer and more durable. The popular playground re-opened in March (2010).

The same volunteer spirit that helped bring the playground to fruition in 1998 can also bring its new equipment, committee members hope. A donation form for those interested in participating is available here.

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