SOLEDAD — A beautiful warm morning welcomed the South Monterey County community to the grand opening of Soledad’s Orchard Lane Park on Saturday.
The 3.5-acre park was filled with excited children, happy parents and of course the Soledad City Council and members of the Project Team that were on hand for the opening ceremony and ribbon cutting.
“What an exciting moment,” said Soledad Mayor Anna Velazquez. “Today we are making history as we celebrate the opening of the first inclusive playground in South Monterey County. Orchard Lane Park is a mosaic of the many voices, visions, dreams and values of our community. Over 10 workshops were held, and the voices of our community helped to shape all the unique elements featured in the park. The vision for the park began many years ago, and today we celebrate the power of a collective vision.”
Orchard Lane Park, located at 300 Orchard Lane in Soledad, was funded by Prop 68 dollars from the State of California.
The park includes a dog park, skate park, inclusive playground, restrooms, nature walk, a butterfly garden, lawn and event space, picnicking and accessible park pathways.
It is the first park in South Monterey County to be fully inclusive to meet the needs of all children, including those with physical and learning disabilities.
San Vicente Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Jaime Ceja attended Saturday’s opening with his 11-year-old son Avin, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, and his daughter Ava, a junior at Soledad High School.
“My son really enjoyed the inclusive play area,” Ceja said. “He was able to try out a few of the swings, and we will come often as we only live a few streets from here. The park is a great addition to our town and neighborhood.”
The Aug. 19 event also featured face painting, balloon animals for the youngsters and a skateboard demonstration on the new skateboard park. Soledad Lions Club provided a free hot dog lunch, and every family in attendance had the chance to win prizes, including skateboards, during the hourly drawings.
Orchard Lane Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, and reservations can be made through Soledad Parks and Recreation to rent the group picnic and barbecue areas.