MAHTOMEDI — The playground has not even been built, yet families will be out enjoying fun and games at the future site of Aaron's Playground Sunday, Sept. 15.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., residents of Mahtomedi and surrounding areas are invited to attend a benefit, Family Fun Festival, at Southwest Park, 29 Long Lake Road. The goal is to create Aaron's Playground in memory of Aaron Markovitz.

Becky and Craig Markovitz are building the most magical playground they can imagine to honor the playful spirit of their son, Aaron, who was born 11 weeks early and couldn't survive his life's early challenges.

During his seven weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Aaron managed to charm the hearts of everyone who came to see him, including family members, visitors and hospital staff. Aaron's parents wanted their son to be remembered by the joy he brought to those around him.

To that end, the couple envisioned a large playground to accommodate 25 or more children of all ages, along with benches for their adults to relax on. They wanted the community to come together, and that's what will be happening at the Family Fun Festival. The event is looking to have a big turnout, said Public Works Director Bob Goebel. Some 450 people had already expressed an interest in attending, he said, and Mahtomedi Public Works will have staff on hand to help out.

Participants will be able to enjoy food trucks from Dahm Good BBQ, Happy Hibachi and Jonny Pops, all the while listening to live music from Preston Gunderson, Urban Hillbilly Quartet and Hitchville. Children can play lawn games, jump in bouncy castles, sample the arts and crafts table and visit the face painting booth. There will also be a community softball game for everyone's enjoyment. A silent auction will have signed jerseys from the Wild's Ryan Suter, Timberwolves' Karl Anthony Towns and Vikings' Alexander Mattison. Bidders can compete for free tickets to the Minnesota Children's Museum, Guthrie Theater and Wild Mountain; free rounds of golf at Dellwood Country Club and Indian Hills Golf Club; a free piano lesson; 10 hours of tutoring; gift certificates to Donatelli's and Mancini's; gift baskets and a lot more.

At its Sept. 3 meeting, the Mahtomedi City Council passed a resolution declaring the Family Fun Festival as an official community event and to sponsor it, because the city recognizes the importance of public special events that serve to enrich the numerous values of the community identity. The city also recognizes that due to limited finances, staff and other resources, it is required to support only those special events that uniquely promote and advance public objectives.

In other words, the Mahtomedi City Council is on board to sponsor the festival in its goal of raising $100,000. As of last week, $63,000 had been raised to build Aaron's Playground, according to Goebel.

Construction will start on the park when the Markovitz’s achieve their fundraising goal.

Aaron's Playground has a Facebook page and a GoFundMe fundraising site. For more information on helping out the Family Fun Festival, visit

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