After months of hard work transforming an abandoned lot into a town square showplace, it was finally time for Passaic, New Jersey, to play.
As part of TODAY’s “Shine a Light” campaign of public service, Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie sought out to create a safe place for kids to gather, and Passaic had the perfect spot for a new playground.
More than 200 children and parents swarmed the new space as it was revealed Tuesday in the city’s town square.
“This is an amusement park for them,” said mayor Alex Blanco, who called the grand opening “a great day for our city.”
About 250 volunteers helped move mountains of mulch, along with 30,000 pounds of concrete and 200 tons of sand to help create the playground. They also planted 50 plants and trees, added 10 picnic tables, a zip line, a wishing well and a 20-foot-tall play web. Matt and Savannah also contributed some elbow grease as playground equipment was being placed.
"Careful of the monkey bars because Savannah actually put those together," Matt joked.
TODAY partnered with the nonprofit organization Kaboom in the project.
"This really really shows how play can transform an entire community when you put kids first and you focus on kids and family," said Kaboom President James Siegal.