During Design Day on November 16, 1990, South Natomas children described their dream playground to a Robert Leathers and Associates designer. From these ideas, Fort Natomas was created. Over the course of one year, our community raised $110,000 in order to fund this dream. During November 6 – 10, 1991, over 2,000 volunteers worked side by side to transform a 12,000 square foot patch of dirt into a wooden children’s dream playground filled with mazes, slides, and magical telephones. The Tile Walls covered with tiles created and decorated by families, small children and community groups were considered to be one of the most uniquely personal elements in the playground. Fort Natomas was born.
Tragically during the early evening on Monday, June 26, 2006 a devastating fire destroyed our beloved Fort Natomas playground. The sadness and sense of loss was evident on the faces of those who witnessed the fire reduce Fort Natomas to piles of ash. Due to the extreme heat of the fire, all of the tiles on the playground side of the walls were found shattered into unrecognizable pieces on the ground. Thanks to the dedication of many volunteers, most of the tile pieces were recovered and proudly again displayed. Days following the fire, children and parents alike were either relieved to find their tile intact or were devastated to learn that their tile was destroyed.
Before the fire had totally been extinguished, Natomas residents began rallying to Rebuild Fort Natomas which occurred only five months later, November 7-12, 2006. Many of the original Core Committee members joined forces again to plan, organize and prepare of the rebirth of Fort Natomas. Although the destruction of Fort Natomas was senseless and a tragedy, there were many mixed blessings. The rebuild brought our community together as workers from the 1991 build worked side by side neighbors new to the area. Also many of our volunteers were teens who grew up playing at the park. Over the course of 6 days, some filled with rain and cold temperatures, 2,500 volunteers built an even more beautiful and creative playground.
The new playground was constructed out of engineered plastic lumber and composite plastic/wood lumber. The entrance to our “Fort” was magnificent, complete with pillars and windows. Our playground contained “one of a kind” Sudoku and check board games. Our custom mosaic sandbox was crafted by over 100 volunteers ranging in age from 10 years – 80 years old. The tot lot contained a pint-size maze, cone and bouncy floor as well as our historical playhouse area complete with replicas of our first fire station, water house and old gas station. In both play areas, beautiful music sounded from the special xylophones. The hanging pods were a challenge to cross by both young and old. Everyone enjoyed the beauty of the custom painted tree mural on our climbing wall. Miraculously, 144 of the 148 broken original tiles were saved and reinstalled along with hundreds of new tiles painted by a new generation. Fort Natomas was back – bigger and better.
Twenty-three months later, on May 26, 2008 tragedy struck again. Due to arson, the entire play structure went up in flames during the middle of the night. A person has been arrested and has pled guilty to the felony fire.