Snowmobile races generate nearly $13,000 for playground equipment

LITTLETON, Maine — The youth of Littleton may have new playground equipment sooner than originally planned, thanks to the overwhelming success of Saturday’s fundraising efforts.

Nearly $13,000 was collected through sponsorships, admissions, concessions and donations during a “Tame the Track” snowmobile racing event. 

The local proceeds will help the town of Littleton replace an aging set of playground equipment for the community to enjoy.

According to the snowmobile racing website, Tame the Track Snowmobile Championship Tour offers the “Vicious Vintage Snowmobile Series” to different communities within the state. Its purpose is to “provide the opportunity for race teams to compete, entertain, and enjoy the simple sport of vintage snowmobile racing by offering a regular season, to include a Points Championship amongst all active race teams, regardless of division with a set of rules and regulations set forth.”

Sam Dunbar, a member of the playground committee, was instrumental in working with Tame the Track promoter Jere Humphrey to bring the racing circuit to Littleton. Ken Moran donated the use of his land behind the town office to create the track.

“I have helped Jere in the past with Tame the Track races, and these always have a big turnout,” Dunbar said. “The hill here made it a really nice spot (for racing). There’s some technical elements and nice straightaways.”

Creating the three-quarter-mile racing track proved challenging, considering the area received a dose of warm temperatures and rain in the weeks leading up to the races. That was followed by more than two feet of fresh snow over the past two weeks.

“We had a lot of last-minute work for sure,” Dunbar said. “We had a lot of volunteers who came and helped us out. The community really came together for this, and we appreciate them.”

Prior to Saturday’s event, the playground committee had raised about $45,000 of its goal of collecting between $80,000 and $100,000 for the new equipment. The bulk of that money was generated through a community-wide yard sale and last summer’s “Fun Day” held at the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum,” as well as donations from the general public.

“We have received the first renderings of an initial plan (for the new playground),” explained Sara Deveau, a member of the Littleton Playground Committee. “This summer we hope to do a first phase of equipment, which would be a piece for the smaller kids and something for older kids.”

Deveau said the committee is also looking to add a “gaga pit,” for children to enjoy. A gaga pit is an octagonal pit, where players try to eliminate others with a soft foam ball — similar to dodgeball.

The committee is optimistic that now that fundraising has surpassed the $50,000 mark, the town will be able to apply for grants that require matching funds. The board hopes to have the new playground finished within two years.

The property was donated to the town in 1990 by Thomas Schools and a total of $25,000 was spent on the equipment. 

Originally, the town had designs on building a baseball field behind the playground. Those plans were never brought to fruition as funds were not available and interest waned over the years, particularly after RSU 29 closed the Littleton Elementary School in 2000 due to decreased enrollment.

LITTLETON, Maine — February 5, 2022 — Hopes of replacing the Littleton Playground were bolstered following Saturday’s Tame the Track snowmobile racing event held behind the Littleton Town Office. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

LITTLETON, Maine — February 5, 2022 — Snow sledders compete Saturday morning at the Tame the Track snowmobile races in Littleton. The race served as a fundraiser for the Littleton Playground Committee. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

LITTLETON, Maine — February 5, 2022 — Racers line up for the start of a heat Saturday morning. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

LITTLETON, Maine — February 5, 2022 — Tame the Track Promoter/Race Director Jere Humphrey waves the green flag to signal the start of a race. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

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