A memorial full of fun | VailDaily.com

A memorial full of fun

Alex Miller
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyThe Golden family visited Little River Park in Minturn Thursday. The playground is dedicated to mother and grandmother Vicki Golden.

MINTURN ” Like many an urban dweller, Washington, D.C. attorney Vicki Golden dreamed of moving to the mountains. After years of visiting the Vail area with her family to ski, Golden finally made the permanent move here in 1995, taking up residence in Minturn and opening a gourmet food shop in Avon.

“She loved the river, the small-town community,” said daughter Megan Golden. “She’d planned to move here later than she did, but she loved it so much she figured why wait?”

Vicki only got to enjoy a few years in the Vail Valley, though, before being diagnosed with breast cancer. She died in 2001. But Saturday, her memory will be part of the community she grew to love when a playground in her honor is dedicated in Minturn’s Little Beach Park.

As Megan explained, it was a rundown facility that her mother nonetheless loved to visit with her grandchildren. After she died, Megan and her brother Eric decided a revamped playground would be a perfect memorial to their mother after hearing of the planned renovation of the park.

They began asking friends and family for donations to make it possible, and the whole thing comes to fruition Saturday with the dedication of “Grandma Vicki’s Playground.”

“We got such a great response; a lot of people contributed,” Megan said. “They did such an amazing job designing it.”

With Megan and her family in from Manhattan, Eric and his family in from Los Angeles and a variety of other friends and family from around the country in town for the dedication, Grandma Vicki’s Playground should get a perfect christening, with grandchildren out in force to try the new facility.

“Our kids were on it within minutes of our arrival,” Megan said with a laugh.

For Eric, the playground represents the perfect memorial to their mother.

“If there were two things she loved above all, they were her grandkids and living in Minturn,” he said. “When Megan and I were thinking of a fitting way to remember her, finding something permanent the people in the community could use in her honor seemed just perfect.”

When they discovered the town was already planning to rebuild the playground, the question of the memorial was answered.

“When you see kids playing there underneath the mountains, it’s about the best remembrance we could hope for,” Eric said.

Grandma Vicki’s Playground is part of a full-scale facelift for Little Beach Park. Along with the Golden Family’s fundraising for the playground, a citizen’s group ” the Little Beach Park Committee ” led the charge to get the job done through donations of time, labor and money.

On Aug. 5, a grand opening is set for the rejuvenated town facility, which will include the playground, basketball court, amphitheater and picnic area.

Town Councilwoman Kelly Brinkerhoff was a force behind the renovation, which she said was boosted by donations above what they initially sought.

“Minturn has no parks or playgrounds, nothing for kids or outdoor areas for people to get together,” Brinkerhoff said. “We started raising money for the park and we got a $200,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant, plus generous donations from private sources like the Golden Family. They’ve been great.”

Eagle County kicked in $50,000, the town of Minturn added another $15,000 while the Minturn Community Fund added $20,000. Private donations totaled nearly $100,000. That’s enabled the park committee to go first-class with the facilities, including the high-end amphitheater.

“It’ll be a good addition to the town,” Brinkerhoff said, adding that the amphitheater will be used for everything from concerts and children’s theater to free movies and other events.

Saturday’s playground dedication will include some remarks by family members followed by refreshments, face-painting for the kids, sidewalk art and, no doubt, plenty of breaking-in of the new playground equipment.

“They truly did a spectacular job with it,” Eric said. “It’s an ideal location, they really got top-quality equipment, and the way they executed it is perfect.”

At the entrance to the playground is a stone with Vicki Golden’s name and the dedication. “We thought of a plaque, but the stone is so fitting with the outdoors and this environment,” Eric said.

As for what his mother would think of it, he said the last thing he remembers Vicki Golden saying from her sick bed was “Just look at the two of them …” as she watched her two oldest grandchildren playing.

The public is encouraged to join in the dedication at the park, which kicks off at 2 p.m. Little Beach Park is on Cemetery Road in Minturn.

Assistant Managing Editor Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625 or amiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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