When tornadoes touched down near the Kentucky city of Hopkinsville, the winds hurdled through the town and caused substantial property damage across the region. While there were thankfully no reported injuries or fatalities, many people were displaced and the community was battered.
In the days following, local officials and members of the community rallied around victims and first responders. People donated clothing, household items and offered assistance with clean-up efforts.
A Go Fund Me account raised $10,000 for displaced residents; a local church worked with the American Red Cross to house them.
One of the most disheartening sights was the destruction of the town’s youth baseball fields at Ruff Park. Destroyed by the tornadoes, the park was the centerpiece of the small town where residents gathered for outdoor activities and school baseball games. That’s where the Talking Rain Beverage Company felt it could help out.
The maker of Sparkling Ice sparkling water felt the rebuilding of Ruff Park was a perfect project for its Cheers to You Town Beautification program, where the company teams up with small towns to tackle community projects. The company restored the park’s baseball fields with Major League Baseball-like coating that was also a big improvement over the original field.
“This is a blessing,” Hopkinsville Mayor Wendell Lynch said. “You never know what is around the corner but when you are doing good work for your community and there is strength that keeps us together, good things will happen."
After the park reopening, the community came together to celebrate with baseball games, contests, activities and photo booths.
Other communities in need of new outdoor spaces or upgrades to existing parks were also selected for support from the Sparkling Ice beautification program.
More than 700 miles away in Bedford, Texas, the Sparkling Ice Musical Pocket Playground includes “life-sized, interactive musical instruments that not only make sounds but teach players a few things about music, too.”
Colorful pipes can play children’s classics like “Bingo” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Additionally, there are bells, chimes and xylophones for families to enjoy.
“I think this park is in the perfect spot because Old Bedford School has always been about children and families, so having something like this just further galvanizes families and our kids to get together,” Bedford Mayor Michael Boyter said.
A third 2020 Cheers to You Beautification project brought new pickleball courts to Doty Park in the South Carolina town of Summerville. Pickleball, a sport that combines badminton, tennis and table tennis, became a popular outdoor activity for the community thanks to the new courts. A youth summer camp taught the town’s younger residents how to play the game, and pickleball enthusiasts began filling the courts on a daily basis.
“That kind of just exploded,” Pam Zanowski, the center’s facility manager, said about the game’s popularity “They are playing at 7 in the morning and 7 in the evening.”
“After seeing the community’s enthusiasm for the sport of pickleball, we’re excited to provide a fun new recreational outlet for the town,” Chis Hall, the CEO of Sparkling Ice’s parent company, Talking Rain, said.
Following the success of the 2020 Cheers to You Beautification projects, Talking Rain announced the development of three new parks in 2021 in Lumberton, N.C.; Biloxi, Miss.; and Port Arthur, Texas.