In a rush of excitement, Ben Heaton, 3, a tow-head with a knowing grin, stood up a moment too soon dismounting the yellow tunnel slide at John Mankins park in northwest Carson City.
Pausing for a millisecond to check to see where that hollow industrial plastic-on-skull thud came from, his hands reached up toward his buzz cut as the realization of his onset "owie" set in.
Just before he could call out to concerned mother, April, he spied brother Jeremy, 5, out of the corner of his eye ascending the steps back to the top of the slide. Just like that, the pain went away and Ben tried it again - this time fully laid back on his second descent, giggling and kicking sawdust after a safe landing.
"I like the big things the best," Ben said.
This all transpired within the first five minutes of the new park's playground opening.
Mark Turner, a principal of Carson-based Black Pine Construction, the firm which spent 18 months designing and building the three-acre park as a part of the Silver Oak subdivision near College Parkway, observed with a grin the park's first customers at noon Tuesday.
"We've got the nicest park in the city, by far," he said. "It's just good to have the project finished and to see this neighborhood with a good place to play."
The park, nestled across the way from two fairways of the Silver Oak Golf Course, features a multi-story tower and plenty of games, ladders, slides and hidden stairwells - for kids like Ben and Jeremy to spend hours stretching little legs and minds.
"It wasn't the easiest thing in the world to get built though," said Sean Richards, also a principal at Black Pine. "We had a stack of papers, what - this thick - all the rules, safety codes and regulations. But this is the payoff."
Richards, who held his hands six inches apart to illustrate the girth of paperwork that went into building the park, snapped pictures with his digital camera and then gestured a half-mile west of the park's tower - to a pile of dirt being graded.
"This park will get some use - there's another 400 lots just over there."
Mother April Heaton, who brought her three children and niece (ages 7 months to 5 years), said she noticed the park's construction, saw the barriers come down and decided to check it out.
"It's going to be good to finally have a park," said Heaton, a Carson native and resident of the neighborhood for two years. "We've seen more (young) families come in. So it'll be nice to have a place like this."
The park, regulated by Carson City Parks and Recreation, features the playground, a picnic shelter, skateboard feature, two basketball courts, a baseball/softball field and a walking path, is at 3051 Oak Ridge Drive.
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.
If you go
WHAT: John Mankins Park
FEATURES: Three-acre park includes a picnic shelter, skateboard feature, large playground, two basketball courts, a baseball/softball field, tennis court, concrete walking path
WHERE: 3051 Oak Ridge Drive. To get there take College Parkway west of Carson Street to Oak Ridge Drive
HOURS: dawn to dusk