Playground poised for improvements

Merry-Go-Fish to be auctioned online, not at cancelled gala, to raise money for Possibility Playground upgrades; city likely to pay for new surface
Ozaukee Press staff

The Merry-Go-Fish gala, when 25 wooden fish decorated by artists were to be auctioned off on Oct. 5 to benefit Possibility Playground, has been cancelled.

Instead, the fish will be sold during an online auction that runs through noon Saturday, Oct. 20.

The sale of the fish is an effort to expand Possibility Playground, a play area in Port Washington’s Upper Lake Park that was built by the community a decade ago and is accessible to children of all abilities.

The fish auction is intended to purchase new equipment for the playground and expand its footprint, something organizers hope to achieve next year.

At the same time, City of Port Washington officials are looking to resurface the playground.

City Administrator Mark Grams said the city will likely borrow the $150,000 to $200,000 needed to replace the surface, although he is looking at other funding options as well.

Those include using some of the money the city will receive from the sale of land for the Prairie’s Edge subdivision, he said.

“We’ll just have to see where it fits in the budget,” Grams said.

The two projects — expansion of the park and the resurfacing — will work in tandem.

But first, funds must be raised for the new equipment, and the Merry-Go-Fish auction is the first step.

One of the fish, “Possibility Rainbow” by Marina Lee, who designed several pieces for Possibility Playground, has sold online for the buy-it-now price of $1,500.

While bids have been placed on several of the other fish, there haven’t yet been offers made for many of them.

The fish will be on display at the Port Exploreum during an open house on Sunday, Oct. 14. There will be no admission charge that day.

“Sometimes pictures don’t do them justice, so this will give people a chance to see the fish up close,” said John Sigwart, a member of the Greater Port Washington Kiwanis Club and its playground committee.

The decision to cancel the gala and live auction came after the Aug. 27 flood that forced the Exploreum, which was to host an artists’ reception last month, to close, Sigwart said.

“Our momentum was lost,” he said. Not only did people not have the chance to see the fish, many of those who planned to bid on them found themselves cleaning up flood damage.

While the initial plan was to hold an online auction until just before the Oct. 5 gala, organizers decided instead to hold an online auction only and extend the time period until Oct. 20, Sigwart said.

The minimum bid for each fish is set at $150, and the buy-it-now price is $1,500.

If a fish hasn’t received the minimum bid, Sigwart said, it will be sold at a silent auction to be held at a later date.

To check out the fish and make a bid, visit

Proceeds from the Merry-Go-Fish campaign will be used to expand Possibility Playground. 

The funds were originally intended to go toward a merry-go-round that could be used by youngsters in a wheelchair or able-bodied children, but local philanthropist Shirli Flack provided those funds as a Christmas gift to the children of the community last year.

So the money will go toward other improvements, such as replacing the current twisty slide, which is cracked, adding a formal entryway with a Loch Ness Monster climbing structure, replacing the sandboxes with a replica of the courthouse clock tower and some of the musical instruments with a replica of the Veterans Park bandshell.

Sigwart, who is also an alderman, said it’s important that the city replace the surface when the new features are added, noting the city owns the playground.

There have been two major surface replacements already, he said, and this is the ideal time for the overall replacement. When Possibility Playground was built a decade ago, he noted, the surface had a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.

“Lord knows, there have only been a million kids through the playground,” he said. “It’s so well used, it’s not a surprise it needs replacing.”

For years, he added, former Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Imig included funds for the surface replacement in his budget but the city didn’t fund the item.

Now, it’s time, Sigwart said.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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