A unique natural play space honors father and daughter

Maris and her dad Tim Zugaro at the park.

It's a playground like no other with a zip line, a fort made out of wood and a lot of places to climb.

"It's so creative and imaginative. It opens itself up to any interpretation. This can be a castle, this could be outer space. There's a train over here it could be a train station," says Michelle Zugaro.

The new Natural Play Area is built inside of a wooded area at Blendon Woods Metro Park.

But the idea for this unique space started with a bond and a tragedy for a little girl named Maris, and her dad Tim.

"They were always climbing on logs and being in nature. It was their favorite thing to do," Michelle explains.

It was the father and daughter's favorite thing to do until last year, when Michelle and Maris found out that Tim was killed in a car accident.

"My girlfriend and I were talking about what we could do with the money given at the funeral and that's when we came up with the idea to have the money allocated to the parks," Michelle says.

The $10,000 raised at Tim's funeral went towards building this play area. The Metro Parks were also able to get grant money from REI CO-OP to help build the area.

It was a way to remember Tim Zugaro in a happy way.

"She calls it me and daddy's park, or daddy's park. She knows we did this to celebrate daddy. Even today, she saw his name right away. The sign says 'Tim's Teeter' and it's daddy. She said immediately I'm going to be on a teeter totter with daddy. It's almost as if he's here," Michelle says while tearing up.

Here at the park helping every child discover nature just like he did with Maris.

One thing parents and kids will notice is that everything is made out of natural material. For example, a log that acts as a bridge to cross over the water.

"Another thing you won't see is a sign with the rules and regulations. There are no rules out here. We want you to create your own space. If you want a fort, build it. If you don't like the fort that's out there, then take it down and re-build it," Metro Parks Director Tim Moloney explains.

Moloney says he's happy to be a part of Michelle's vision to remember her husband.

"I know Tim would've wanted something like that," Moloney says.

The play area embodies the park's mission to get kids outdoors and playing in the dirt. It also helps Maris remember the great times she spent discovering with daddy.

The Natural Play Area opens to the public on May 21, 2017.

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