Salado all-abilities playground fully funded despite money theft accusations

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:42 PM CST
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SALADO, Texas (KWTX) - Phase 1 of an all-abilities playground in Salado has been fully funded according to Salado’s mayor Michael Coggin.

The playground project was temporarily threatened after accusations arose that the founder of a popular mermaid festival- Sirena Fest- which was meant to raise funds for the playground had pocketed some of the funds. A police investigation into the matter is ongoing.

A News Ten investigation into the matter found that there were instances where the former organizer of the Sirena Fest did not report monetary donations appropriately.

As the police investigation continues new organizers that have taken over the festival say they are moving forward with the Sirena Fest mission while fully rebranding and renaming the event.

“We thought it needed a facelift,” said Theresa Howard, one of the new organizers. “So, Sirena festival and mermaid parade is now changing to Sirena’s Creekside Carnivale”

More than a facelift the new organizers say they’re committed to gaining the public’s trust and part of that includes creating a non-profit to house the festival.

“We all started working together to create Legacy Salado Inc. which is our nonprofit and we just got 501(c)(3),” Howard said.

Despite the stain from last year’s scandal some local Salado businesses like the Gypsy’s Closet are already onboard with financially supporting the new Sirena’s Carnivale.

“There is a lot of work that has to be done to undo the whatever happened,” said Gypsy’s closet owner Ginny Lamphea. “It’s a wonderful idea. It started off as a wonderful idea, it took a little detour and now its back,” she said.

One of the new festival organizers, Amber Dankert is also chairwoman of Salado’s parks committee. She says with contributions from the Village of Salado, the State of Texas, Titos Vodka and what was left of the prior Sirena Fest funds, phase 1 of the all abilities playground has been fully funded.

“We just worked with the village to select Braun and Butler who is going to be our new designer and builder of the playground,” Dankert said. “The village is currently working through the final parts of that contract and so it will be awarded soon and then people should expect to see construction soon after that.”

The new organizers there say they will continue to fundraise for phase 2 of the project and other projects around Salado.

The new Sirena’s Creekside Carnivale is scheduled for October 1st and 2nd.

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