The Willie "Woo Woo" Wong Playground, located at 830 Sacramento Street in SF's Chinatown, had been closed for more than two years — but, after a multi-million-dollar renovation, reopened right in time for the Lunar New Year.
With a basically brand-new clubhouse, improvements to the on-site sports courts, and other upgrades (which include such things as dragon-themed playground equipment), the Willie Wong Playground became accessible to the public again Friday afternoon.
Mayor @LondonBreed announced the opening of the Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground—a center for community engagement & recreation for all in the heart of Chinatown. Opening in time for the #LunarNewYear, it recently completed a top-to-bottom renovation: https://t.co/n8asNnWGSV pic.twitter.com/KyOQWRChRS— San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (@RecParkSF) February 12, 2021
"I am so excited to open this playground and beautiful community space in Chinatown just in time for Lunar New Year," said Mayor London Breed in a news release. "Parks and playgrounds make cities livable, particularly in dense areas, and investing in neighborhood spaces and projects like this are critical for San Francisco's wellbeing and our recovery."
Per the release, the $14.5M renovation was funded in part through the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond and also included $4.5M from the Downtown Park Fund; additional funding was also provided through the City’s Open Space Fund.
The funding, too, went toward revamping the park's clubhouse that now includes a Community Hub — described as a place to help encourage "high-need young people to explore their full potential through academic, career, family, and community life." This new Community Youth Center-led hub will see some 12 middle and high school students at a time and will primarily serve those who live in public housing and SROs, as well as English language learners; the playground is accessible daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will remain open to the public while the hub is in session.
Among the more notable, eye-catching changes include climbable, walkable structures inspired by Chinese culture (and created by local artist Julie Chang) like water dragon and phoenix sculptures, and a mural called "Maiden's Dress."
Formerly called the Chinese Playground, the small park — which, according to NBC Bay Area, was renamed in 2006 after Willie Wong, a Chinese American basketball player who played for the University of San Francisco from 1948 to 1950 — was opened in 1927.
For more information on the improvements done to the Willie Wong Playground, visit sfrecpark.org.
Image: Courtesy of SF Rec Park