Madison Park playground in Winona is now open for play

The children of Winona have a new place to let off steam this summer.

On Wednesday night, the city hosted a grand opening celebration of its Madison Park Playground filled with slides, swings and smiles.

“We realized there was a bit of a recreational desert here on the west end,” said Winona Mayor Scott Sherman, who lives near the new park.

Autumn and Kai Alderman play at the new Madison Park Playground on Wednesday.

Rachel Mergen, River Valley Media Group

Sherman said that other recreation-related work has been done throughout the city in recent years, but not much has been done for children's recreation in this part of town.

“We've heard stories of children basically playing on piles of dirt,” he said.

Now that is no longer necessary.

Sherman said the park and playground are already heavily used and he visits often with his two young children.

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Sherman isn't the only parent celebrating the new play opportunity.

Autumn Alderman, who lives near the park, attended the grand opening on Wednesday and took the time to play on the new playground with her one-year-old son, Kai.

Madison Park Playground

Children play on a slide at the new playground in Madison Park on Wednesday.

Rachel Mergen, River Valley Media Group

“We love it,” Alderman said. “We love being able to just walk to the park because before there wasn't one near here.”

Alderman believes the park and playground are important to local residents because they allow children to be physically active, play on slides and other play equipment, and meet new friends.

While the park gives her son and other children the opportunity to be kids, she said it also gives her the opportunity to feel like a kid.

Councilwoman said she liked the picnic area next to the playground.

The new park and playground is located behind the former Madison Elementary School, 515 Wabasha St.

The school was closed in 2018 due to budget shortfalls and the need to reduce the number of elementary schools in the Winona Area Public Schools district.

The city purchased a portion of the property in the area where the school playground once stood from Madison Property LLC in 2019 for $155,000.

The city later built Madison Park on the property, with much of the funding for the new playground coming from an American Rescue Plan Act grant in 2022.

The park and playground opened earlier this year.