Playground waterfall mural gets new splash of color
COOKEVILLE – Vibrant blue and white “water” is flowing once again inside Dogwood Park’s Heart of the City Playground.
Cookeville muralist Erica Swenson just finished repainting the playground’s Burgess Falls-themed rock climbing wall amid the sounds of children’s laughter, melodic play equipment and a nearby stream.
“It’s really a happy place to be,” she said of the 12,000-square-foot playground, which was constructed by community volunteers with community-raised funds in late 2015.
Swenson helped paint the original waterfall mural during the week-long building endeavor.
“It’s made to look like the kids can climb up the waterfall,” she said of the popular playground feature that has handholds scattered throughout.
It took Swenson five days, with a few rainy days in between, to repaint the waterfall after the original art deteriorated.
“It was in direct sunlight, and the paint just pealed right off,” she said.
Cookeville Leisure Services maintenance workers pressure washed what was left of the old mural, leaving a fresh canvas for Swenson to recreate it.
“It should be more durable than the first one,” she said.
Swenson, who attended New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology for illustration, has lived in Cookeville for five years.
“When I got out of college, I got into mural painting, and I’ve been doing it for about 12 years,” she said.
Kelly Swallows, playground committee co-chair, appreciates the fresh new look.
“I’m just so grateful and thankful,” she said. “It looks awesome. It’s my favorite part of the whole playground.”
Her in-laws, Mike and Joyce Swallows, had sponsored the rock wall when the playground was built.
Cathy Benich, Cookeville Leisure Services office manager, is also pleased with the artwork.
“The community is fortunate to have someone like Erica, who was willing to volunteer her time to repaint this beautiful mural,” she said.
The Heart of the City Playground is the Upper Cumberland’s only all-inclusive, fully-accessible playground, having been specifically designed so that all children, regardless of ability or mobility level, could play together.
In addition to the rock-climbing wall, the playground features numerous swings (including a bird’s nest swing and two therapeutic swings with high backs and harnesses), a roller table tunnel, an “ability whirl” merry-go-round, bouncy bridges, balance beams, ramps and more, all atop a soft, shock absorbent rubber surface.
Erica Swenson, left, stands next to the waterfall mural she repainted at Dogwood Park’s Heart of the City Playground. Admiring the artwork are Kelly Swallows, playground committee co-chair, center, and Cathy Benich, Cookeville Leisure Services office manager.