SEDRO-WOOLLEY — There are times where triumph can arise out of tragedy, where a community-changing positive can emerge from a gut-wrenching negative.
The Pat Janicki Memorial Playground is just such an instance.
Janicki, who died of an overdose in 2017 at the age of 30, left unfulfilled a dream to see a playground built at Janicki Fields.
Today, his family, the Sedro-Woolley Rotary Club, the Sedro-Woolley School District and community members are banding together to make his dream a reality.
The proposed park will include a picnic area, an oversized sandbox complete with playground equipment, and a train emblazoned with “Pat’s Playground.”
“The inspiration for the main part of the park is the train,” said Stephanie Bachmeier, Janicki’s sister. “It will be the biggest feature. I remember Pat bought this train a few years ago, in like 2015. It’s a little train that a guy built for his grandkids and you can get inside it and drive it. Pat loved this train. So the main play structure is a train, to go along with that logging theme and to go along with the history of Sedro-Woolley.”
Janicki’s mother, Lisa Janicki, said the family is the third to become “foster parents” of the train. She added that her son took great pride in it.
“He’d take the nieces and nephews through the drive through at Hal’s Drive In,” she said. “He just loved it ... This park, it’s the perfect place.”
Money for the playground is being raised through Gofundme. About $3,000 of the $100,000 goal has been raised.
Mike Janicki, Patrick’s father, is president of the Sedro-Woolley Rotary Club. As such, he is charged with developing projects worthy of the club’s efforts.
For him, the playground was an obvious choice.
“My son, Patrick, grew up in the fields that are now the Janicki Fields,” he said during a July presentation to the Sedro-Woolley School Board. “When he was 3 or 4 years old, his other siblings were playing there and all there was were these piles of rocks they’d play with. Well, he got in trouble a few times because they’d take the rocks over and fill up the drains. He was like, ‘Dad, if there were things to do, things to play with out here we wouldn’t have this issue.’”
The Sedro-Woolley School District has agreed to part with a 93-foot by 104-foot area in the northeast corner of Janicki Fields. Youth soccer teams once used the space, but have since relocated to the fields at Winnie Houser Park.
The idea for the park was born 20 years ago.
“(Patrick) got it in his head that we needed a playground for all the kids that weren’t playing sports there,” Mike Janicki said. “Mainly, the 3-year-olds to the 10-year-olds who are there watching their siblings in Little League or softball or something else.”
Blueprints have been drawn and renderings are in place. All that’s needed now is money.
Mike Janicki said his family isn’t striving for the perfect park, just something better than what’s currently there.
“They don’t need it all laid out,” he said. “We want imagination to be part of this. The idea is to have an area where kids can be creative when they play. Where kids can be kids.”