As Mayor of the City of Wilkes-Barre, I have the honor of attending numerous community events each year. On July 1, I took part in one of the most heartfelt and memorable events in our community’s history — the dedication of the Nathan Gray Playground at Barney Farms Park.
Nathan’s parents, Jeff and Tricia, and siblings Jeffrey and Natalie, were supported by their extended family, many friends, neighbors, community leaders and elected officials as we officially opened the playground.
I am truly proud to be the mayor of a city whose residents support each other in the darkest of times. The outpouring of love for Nathan and his family throughout his cancer diagnosis, treatment and his untimely passing is indicative of the compassion of our community.
Honoring Nathan’s memory, with the creation of the Nathan Gray Memorial Playground, was a passion project for me. Every member of my administration who was involved with the project was inspired by Nathan’s courage and strength.
The playground could not have been possible without the dedication of Joyce Morrash-Zaykowski, director of the Office of Community and Economic Development. She ensured that Nathan’s wishes for the playground, as expressed by his mother, were brought to fruition.
Some of Nathan’s wishes included the new orange dog rockers and fitness equipment. Additional equipment includes several pieces of playground equipment, which are accessible to children and young adults of all abilities, much like the pieces seen in the Special Needs Playground in Kirby Park.
Special thanks are made to Mike Amato from PennEastern Engineering of Wilkes-Barre and Josh Knorr from Columbia Excavating Inc. of Berwick for making this project a priority and working so closely with our administration to open the park this summer, and in time for Nathan’s birthday. I would also like to acknowledge MoZip, in Kingston, for such a beautiful sign and David Lewis for his continued guidance in bringing this project to completion.
The Wilkes-Barre City Department of Public Works, Teamsters Local 401, put their hearts and talents into placing finishing touches on the playground and ensuring that it will continue Nathan’s legacy and be a place for children to play for years to come.
GEORGE BROWN is mayor of Wilkes-Barre.