‘A place to go to get their energy out’

WAILUA — Ever since the Eastside Happy Dog Playground opened, Chris Nesbitt has taken his dog there. As he watched Bandit chase her favorite ball across the open field last week, Nesbitt said he couldn’t believe the Wailua park was about to celebrate its one-year anniversary already.

“I’m glad it’s here,” the Kauai resident said. “I love it, just having a place to take the dogs here in the neighborhood where they can run and get their exercise, especially when I can’t hike the Giant or anything like that.”

And the park isn’t only good for the dogs, but for the people who wish to exercise as well, Nesbitt added.

Although the park wasn’t originally meant for dogs, Wailua area residents who wanted a place for their canine companions to play worked with county officials to create the dog park.

One of the park’s co-creators, Donna Pickard, is hosting a rummage sale to benefit the park as well as celebrate its anniversary.

“It’s fabulous,” Pickard said. “Just to see the amount of people use the park. It’s been very cute to watch people bond together and make new friends.”

Not only that, Pickard said, but their “dogs have a place to go to get their energy out.”

The rummage sale will be held March 21 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds will go toward the installation of new shade trees, dog washing stations and dog waste bags for the park’s visitors.

“A lot of people think that the town provides these bags and they don’t,” Pickard said. “It’s by community and park parent donations. We need to make sure that we keep those dispensers full at all times for the cleanliness of the park.”

People are welcome to donate “lightly used items” such as books, jewelry, camping goods, toys and clothing which will be accepted until March 20. To make donawtions, send an email to the park committee at eastsidehappydogplayground.com.

Dog owners 11-year old Veda Parker and 9-year-old Sienna Tenne visit the park once a week.

“I think this park is really good for the dogs because it has a big open, running space and there’s good benches and some playground equipment like trees and balls,” Parker said. “It just seems like a really good park. I think it’s great (that the park is celebrating one year). Happy birthday!”

“I like my dogs being happy and playing with other dogs,” Tenne said.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and Department of Parks and Recreation Director Leonard Rapozo Jr. also helped with the park’s establishment, explained park co-creators Rene and Thomas Tokuda.

“We’re so happy to have this partnership with the county,” Rene Tokuda said. “We can’t thank them enough. There are so many people that go out there and it’s so well used.”

Thomas Tokuda is looking forward to the park’s continued success.

“We’re very happy about the park,” he said. “There are a lot of people who use the park, so we’re happy about that. It’ll be open for a long time, I’m sure.”

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