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Playground proves popular

Emma Braswell swings as her parents, Jason and Carrie Braswell, keep watch at Papa’s Playground on Friday. (WDN Photo/Mike Voss)

Papa’s Playground is proving popular, which would make Gary Lee Tomasulo Sr. pleased as punch if here were alive.

Papa’s Playground, part of the Festival Park complex on Washington’s downtown waterfront, is being used more and more by children, their parents and grandparents and others as temperatures rise. The playground and the children using it got a good workout Friday.

The Braswells — Jason, Carrie and their toddler daughter Emma — were repeat visitors to the playground Friday.

“Since this playground’s been here, probably two or three times,” Jason Braswell said about the family’s visits to Festival Park.

The Braswells live in Williamston, where he is youth minister at Williamston Memorial Baptist Church.

“We really like what the town’s down with it. It’s a good place to come, to play. We had a picnic lunch over there on a bench. We enjoy coming to Washington and spending time together,” he said about the park and playground.

Jamie Pedro and her son Cameron, 2, were first-time visitors to the playground Friday. Cameron turned the fenced-in playground into his personal track as he ran around its inside perimeter several times.

“Just walking by,” Pedro said when she was asked how she learned about the playground.

“It’s nice. It’s something for kids to do. He likes it,” Pedro said about the playground.

Pedro said she and her son would be making return trips to the playground.

“I think it’s nice. It gives people a place to get out and enjoy themselves,” she said about Festival Park.

Cameron answered with an enthusiastic, one-word response when asked if he likes the playground: “Yes!”

Tomasulo, who opened La Bella Pizzeria in downtown Washington in July 2009, died after falling from a fire escape on a downtown building on Labor Day 2009. Tomasulo, president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association at the time of his death, was working in and around an apartment located above Main Street Scoops, a building that he purchased earlier that year, when he fell some three stories.

After his death, Tomasulo’s family established the Gary Tomasulo Downtown Washington Playground Fund. At a City Council meeting in February 2011, Tomasulo’s widow, Marie, presented a $25,000 check to the city to help pay for the playground.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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