Nine-year-old Kyra Gordon of Endwell looked forward to spending a day off from school on Nov. 5 to play at an Apalachin park. The outing, however, was cut short.
Kyra’s aunt, Patty Farthing, and her family have lived on Barton Road in Apalachin for just over four years. Muth Park, and also the home of the Apalachin Youth Athletic Association (AYAA) where baseball games have been held for decades, is just a short walk from the Farthing’s home.
“We frequent the park,” Farthing said, and remarked that neighborhood children often play at the park that features a small playground and a pavilion with picnic tables. Many other residents in the area utilize the park grounds to walk their dogs or to just take a stroll.
Farthing commented that when the family, including her daughter, two nephews and Kyra, arrived at the park on Nov. 5, they were met with an unsettling discovery.
Farthing explained that someone had spray-painted foul language and messages on several sections of the playground equipment, and also on picnic tables near and under a pavilion, as well as one building and a set of bleechers used by AYAA.
“Thankfully, the three little ones cannot read yet,” Farthing remarked, and went on to say that as soon as Kyra realized what some of the words meant, she fervidly spoke up and told her aunt that her cousins shouldn’t play there that day.
Farthing shared, “Kyra quickly got fired up for the cause to clean up the vandalism so that her cousins, and other children, had a safe place to play.”
From there, it was decided to plan a clean-up effort on Nov. 9. Farthing reached out to as many people as possible, in hopes that others would help clean up the playground equipment. She also left a message at the Town of Owego Parks Department for a recommendation on what type of cleaning products to use.
Farthing indicated that a neighbor called the Tioga County Sheriff’s office about the vandalism.
Saturday, Nov. 9 turned out to be a very cold day, yet Farthing said a small group worked for about two hours.
Farthing explained that they cleaned as best as possible. She elaborated that their efforts took enough of the spray paint off so that young visitors to the park won’t be able to read what was there, but some of it remains. The group is considering another round of cleaning.
“I give credit to my niece, Kyra, and I am proud that she wanted to make a difference,” Farthing said.
The Owego Pennysaver reached out to Scott Vasisko, Town of Owego Parks Supervisor, by phone. Muth Park is part of the Town of Owego parks system.
Vasisko said that the parks department will schedule to go out to Muth Park and perform additional clean-up when weather permits, and thanked the Farthing family and others for their efforts. Vasisko also said that an AYAA representative was notified of the vandalism.