The donor of the Idyllwild Community Center land doubled his matching contribution to the Idyllwild playground project from $25,000 to $50,000, according to playground advocate and leading fundraiser Dawn Sonnier. She sought additional assistance from the donor because a 15 by 15 foot covered pavilion was not provided for in the original plan and budget.

In upping his commitment, the donor stated, “The extensive use of volunteers [part of the planned playground construction in June] creates tremendous value for the investment as well as enthusiasm for the Community Center. As a result, and mostly because of your extraordinary accomplishments, we have decided to fully match the donations for the playground. We will increase our original commitment of $25,000 to $50,000, half of the playground contributions from others [to date], and will continue to match any additional money you raise for the playground.”

With the donor’s increased matching funds pledge, Sonnier is confident the pavilion can be built. It requires engineering because it is both a roofed and cantilevered structure. When built, it will accommodate sheltered picnic tables and serve as a pleasant gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

The land donor cited Sonnier’s “extraordinary accomplishments” in having moved the project to this moment of realization and, for the most part, it has been a project primarily driven by her belief and commitment. “We’re asking for the community’s continued support, to come out and help us build this,” she said. “This town has been completely supportive of this project.”

Sonnier envisions the five-day playground construction as a re-enactment of an iconic moment in Idyllwild’s history — the community’s coming together to build Town Hall in the 1940s.

Town Crier founder Ernie Maxwell recalled the building of Town Hall in an article published in 1984, “On Dec. 5, 1946, the town closed down so that everyone could help pour concrete for the basement and foundation. A group of women prepared lunch and dinner for the scores of men and one woman — Vi Taylor — who mixed and poured concrete for five mixers.”

Sonnier said there are over 500 locals who have indicated interest in helping build the playground beginning on June 13. And, just as with the Town Hall construction 66 years ago, organizers will provide food for all who show up to work. Child care will also be available. “This will be built by the community,” said Sonnier and expressed hope that it will be a unifying experience for the town.

Sonnier believes the pavilion can begin to be built at the end of April. Prior to June 13, Rick Foster and a Rotary crew will dig the necessary footings for the playground installation. And then on Wednesday, June 13, the project construction begins, overseen by Leathers and Associates out of Ithaca, New York. Upon completion, they will also certify the playground to Riverside County’s satisfaction. On Thursday, June 14, Sonnier and the committee are seeking 50 skilled workers and contractors to come and donate their time.

Sonnier wants the community to know that this next weekend will be the last to pledge to purchase customized and personalized pickets for the fence surrounding the facility, since the order must be called in. “There is a job for everyone in this community event,” said Sonnier.

For more information on how you can help advance this project, contact [email protected], [email protected] and visit the website You can also contact Sonnier by phone at (951) 315-7881 or Claudia Posey at (951) 659-2360.

A fundraising concert, free to the public, will be held on Saturday, May 5, Cinco de Mayo, from 2 to 5 p.m. on the community center property. Three musical groups, “Unwound,” “Contagion” and “Change Required” will perform.