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Chico's iconic imaginative playground was formulated in 1957 by members of the Chico Junior Women's Club (CJWC) who answered the call put out by California's statewide Women's Clubs to create a community project. Since all members of Chico Junior Women's Club were 35 or younger with children, a playground was the perfect fit. The distinctive element of Caper Acres, imagined with common children's rhymes and songs in mind, was designed in structures that invited children to play in, on, and around, them. They won this competition! At the time, no such playground existed in all of Northern California. Caper Acres was a pioneering effort!

This 1959 article highlights the artistic talents of Chico Junior Women's Club member Marlys Norlie and two of the ten playground areas, the Firehouse and the Entrance Gate, in their first iteration as drawings. The final drawings were then formatted into engineered diagrams so they could be constructed.
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This article in the Enterprise Record from June 1959 includes a photo of the first groundbreaking, for the water main.

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Marlys Norlie's first depiction of the Swiss cheese play structure.

Caper Acres was a massive, volunteer undertaking. Members of the Chico Junior Women's Club not only dreamed up the idea and specific areas of the playground. They then convinced the Parks and Recreation Council of the City of Chico to be partners. After that they set about fundraising and enlisting other service groups to volunteer in the construction of the individual play areas. All of Chico was involved, from businesses to fraternities and sororities, to individuals. Many hands were required to complete this beloved area.

This 2015 interview with
Barbara Hicks, an original member of CJWC, talks about the many individuals and groups involved.

To Be Continued

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