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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Riverfront Park’s red wagon renovation complete; children, adults eagerly climb aboard Saturday

Jeremy Jasman waits for his daughter Jordan, 2, at the bottom of The Childhood Express red wagon in Riverfront Park Saturday. The wagon, created by artist Ken Spiering in 1989, just reopened to the public after receiving a fresh coat of paint along with minor metal repairs.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The facelift of Riverfront Park’s red Radio Flyer wagon is complete.

Children and adults were already posing for photos on top of it, sliding down its white slide and swinging from the monkey bars underneath it shortly after the yellow caution tape was removed from the perimeter late Saturday afternoon.

“Riverfront is filled with iconic pieces that define our skyline – the Clocktower and the Pavilion – and the red wagon certainly falls within one of those iconic elements that makes Riverfront Park what it is and recognizable,” Spokane Parks spokeswoman Fianna Dickson said. “And part of the beauty of the red wagon is you don’t have to wander too far into the park to see it.”

The $73,000 project started May 31 and included stripping all existing paint and rust, making minor metal repairs and applying new primer and paint to match the original, according to a Spokane Parks and Recreation news release.

The Spokane Park Board approved the renovation through a contract with Modern Construction and Consulting Services. The work was paid for by park maintenance funds.

Dickson said the contractor discovered additional damage that needed repair during the project, but it donated labor for that part of the project to keep the cost at $73,000. Sherwin-Williams donated the paint.

The 27-foot-long, 12-foot-wide and 12-foot-tall wagon, formally known as “The Childhood Express,” was built for the 1989 Centennial Celebration of Children by local artist Ken Spiering.

“The fact that it’s interactive I think has made it even more embraced in our community,” Dickson said. Both kids and adults love to slide down the piece, she said.

Before the renovation, the 26-ton wagon had been repainted only once since its construction 33 years ago, and this was the first time the wagon received any “significant” steel repairs, Dickson said last month.

“It was just time for a fresh coat,” Dickson said Saturday.

The city planned to open the wagon to the public midday Saturday, but the final cleanup and site preparation took a bit longer than expected and delayed the opening until about 5 p.m., Dickson said.

She said any finishing touches to the renovation that were not completed Saturday will be finished in the next week, but the wagon will remain open to the public.

“They were really anxious to open for the busy holiday weekend,” Dickson said.

Cadence Calvert was swinging on the bars beneath the wagon while her friends and family watched shortly after the wagon reopened Saturday.

Calvert said she grew up in Yakima and would play on the wagon while visiting her grandparents as a child. She said she was happy the wagon is still at the park.

“This is my first time being back here in years, and so apparently I just have great timing,” Calvert said. “It was just like when I was a kid.”

After riding the Numerica SkyRide and Looff Carrousel at the park, Nancy Leong and her husband watched their son and his peers play on the wagon. They came from Honolulu and were in town for the U.S. Karate National Championships at The Podium.

Leong said she Googled “things to do in Spokane” and the red wagon was one that popped up on her screen.

“I wanted to make it a point to come and take a look at it,” she said.