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      Celebration as Mark Twain Elementary dedicates playground

      There are plenty of smiling faces in Hannibal.

      That's because community members and the entire student body from the Hannibal grade school cut the ribbon on the school's new playground.

      The new playground is part of a community fund drive where tens of thousands of dollars were donated to provide the kids a safe and secure environment.

      Tom and Becky were on hand and there was even a balloon launch. Principal Karen Wheelan says they didn't think it would be this soon that the kids got to play on the newly installed equipment. She said they thought it would be sometime after Thanksgiving.

      For Camilla Ferrel, she was part of the committee that helped raise money to pay for the playground and it holds a special place in her heart.

      "Well its really special to me on lots of levels. I was a student at Mark Twain and then my kids go to school here and I also had a brother that passed away from a rare form of liver cancer when he was in the 6th grade and so a lot of my memories of him are associated with school here. So it's just on so many different levels, it's just been a wonderful day. It's a highlight for me," Ferrell said.

      And as they cut the ribbon on the new playground, 5th grader Spencer Locke was happy to be part of the day as well. He remembers last year playing on a much smaller playground and now it's something that everyone will be happy to see.

      "Because last year we had a small playground and everything was really cramped together and everybody couldn't do anything. Now that we have this we can actually be spaced out and have some new stuff to play with," Locke said.

      One of the new features the playground has is as multi purpose all weather surface. It's spongy, soft and will be able to withstand the elements. So even it's it's wet outside, as long as it's not raining, snowing or thundering and lighting, the kids will be able to play and not have to worry about the mud and getting their shoes and clothes dirty. All of this thanks to the community donors that made it all possible.

      Principal Wheelan also said some of the donated money was used to purchase bricks with the donors names etched on them.

      Those bricks will used as part of a structure on the playground that will include an old, donated school bell.