By Gloria Lloyd
Sunset Hills Parks and Recreation unveiled a new playground and nature trail Oct. 21 during a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony.
The ceremony marked the opening of the new Stieren Family playground and trail. Sunset Hills received a $200,000 gift from longtime Sunset Hills residents the Stieren family in March 2018.
The playground is adjacent to the city’s Athletic Complex, 13555 W. Watson Road.
“We had a resident of Sunset Hills call us and ask if we could use a playground someplace,” Mayor Pat Fribis said at a meeting of the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Kiwanis Club. “We were all happy about this. He said he has saved his money throughout his life, and he would like to donate $200,000 to the playground.”
But the backstory behind Stieren’s donation is just as unique, the mayor said.
“The story of this is just amazing,” she said.
“When he left it was there, but when he came back from serving in the war it was no longer there,” Fribis said. “He doesn’t know what happened to it, and he was very sad about that.”
Although Stieren never forgot his tugboat, he’s getting another one for children to enjoy: The Stieren playground is a tugboat playground — centered around a large concrete tugboat for climbing— with swings, tetherball, picnic tables, benches and a 100-foot zip line. Even Stieren got in on the fun on opening day, testing out the zipline.
“And all totally a gift from a wonderful resident,” Fribis said.
The half-mile nature trail goes through the woods of Sunset Hills and ends with a view of the Meramec River, where there are two benches and a sign dedicated to the Stieren family.
At a March 27 city meeting where Stieren ceremonially presented the check to the city, he said, “Glad to do it. I’ve been saving money all my life. I can’t think of a better place to spend it than right here.”