HAZLETON — Thursday’s groundbreaking for a new baseball-themed playground at the Hazleton One Community Center kicks off a long weekend of events featuring Hazleton’s Joe Maddon, manager of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.
Maddon will be joined by other local community leaders, including developer William Rinaldi, whose company is donating the labor and materials for a new $250,000 children’s playground at the center, located at 225 East 4th Street. The ceremony is set for 11 a.m. with a news conference to follow in the center.
Bob Curry, founding president of the Hazleton Integration Project, said Rinaldi is donating the money for the project that expected to be completed in the spring of 2017. The Hazleton Integration Project was founded in 2011 by Maddon and his wife, Jaye, and Curry and wife, Elaine Maddon Curry, whom is Joe Maddon’s first cousin.
“We’ve been looking forward to the day to break ground on this project for well over one year,” Curry said.
Curry said the Hazleton Integration Project was organized specifically to create educational cultural and athletic opportunities for economically disadvantaged children.
“Our secondary goal is to insure that everyone who crosses through our doorway helps to foster respect and appreciation of all of our area’s various cultures,” Curry said, noting that the organization serves between 1,200 and 2,000 “unique visitors” per week.
Curry said the new playground will have a baseball theme with traditional features like swing sets, slides and monkey bars. He said all the equipment will be “a bit upscale and adapted to meet today’s standards.”
Albina (Beanie) Maddon, Joe’s mother
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.