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Playground gets a Jerusalem-themed makeover

Sunday - 5/26/2013, 4:46pm  ET

PLAYGROUND375.jpg
Three-year-olds Juliana Robbins, left, and Julia Spiggles play at the new playground at the Agudas Achim Congregation, in Alexandria. (WTOP/Thomas Warren)
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WTOP's Thomas Warren reports

After a countdown, the kids go bananas

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. - As the countdown began, the only thing standing between the bulging eyes of little kids waiting to break in new slides, monkey bars and swings was the ceremonial red tape.

When the count struck zero, they unleashed their energy with all their collective might.

The playground at the Agudas Achim Congregation, in Alexandria, is 30 years old, but on Sunday morning it was unveiled to the community completely rebuilt with a new look.

"It's a Jerusalem-themed playground. It was stick-built, with slides, and a see-saw, a Noah's Ark," says Beth Robbins, who helped oversee the project.

There's also a play house, a miniature synagogue and a Sukkah, along with swings for toddlers and small children. Robbins, who is also an Army lieutenant colonel and a Pentagon spokeswoman, says many of the playground's designs came from the minds of children in the community.

Rachel Albert's daughter designed the baby blue, wooden Star of David that lays flat and acts as a seating area. Albert's 4-year-old son, Micha, has also taken to his new summer hangout. "I like the boat, and the tower, and the swings are my favorite too," Micha Albert says.

Adults had a hand in the creative process as well. "We were trying to think of Jewish things, so I said, 'spinning, something Jewish, a Dreidel'," says Matt Fleming. And so a spinning Dreidel, in the likeness of a merry-go-round, sits on a side of the playground.

Robbins says the playground was six months in the planning, but the building took six days. Her hope is that the playground will be a part of the community for generations to come.

"We built this for them to pass along on our values, our love of Judaism, our love of community, and I think it will resonate with them," she says.

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