The snow and ice still covering the ground outside McDevitt Recreation Center did nothing to tamp the excitement that droves of children brought to Saturday's grand-opening party for the Scotts Lane facility's newly renovated playground.

Thanks to a push from the neighborhood's youth-sports association, and Fourth District City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.'s ability to secure funding, nearly $300,000 went into renovating the playground at the seemingly "forgotten" facility.

At the rec center was free food, face painting, crafts, Phillies ballgirls representatives from the Playworks non-profit and instructors from Legacy Youth Tennis and Education teaching kids how to properly wield raquets.

Gratitude and a bright future

Outside, Jones was among those who spoke before a ribbon was ceremonially cut to signify the opening of the playground which, once temperatures rise accordingly, will feature a sprayground.

"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, McDevitt," Jones said. "Some kids don't get to go to Disney World every year, but they can come here. This playground and rec center will be as welcoming as possible."

Agreeing with Jones' assessment of the day were East Falls Sports Association board members Jen Arnoldi, who was dubbed the quarterback of the neighborhood effort, and Matt McClure.

"This would be nowhere near close to done if not for Jen," said McClure, who lauded the efforts of Jones, against whom he ran for City Council in 2007.

"Councilman Jones is committed to investing in this facility. The proof is right behind us," he continued. "Families can come together here. This investment is an important development for our community."

For his part, playground designer Franceso Cerrari boasted of how replaced equipment and new flooring elevated the playground's safety level. He was pleased with the turnout.

"I'm surprised by how many people are here today," he said of a crowd so big that parking was unavailable before the 11 a.m. event started. "Now I know that many people will use this playground. I'm very happy about that."