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Girl Scouts install Gaga ball pit at Pleasant Park, open house is Sept. 23

Perched on top of the Gaga ball pit are Mya Dahlen, left, Natalie Sorenson, McKenzie Langenfeld and Aimee Fagnant. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
The Girl Scout project in Pleasant Park started with several holes in the ground. Pieces were set out where they were to be installed. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

Hastings has a new public recreation feature thanks to a group of local Girl Scouts.

Mya Dahlen, Aimee Fagnant, McKenzie Langenfeld and Natalie Sorenson are members of Girl Scout Troop 53594 in Hastings. On Sunday, they gathered a group of volunteers and built a Gaga ball pit at Pleasant Park.

Gaga ball is a sport similar to dodgeball; players gather in an enclosed “pit” and, using their hands, attempt to bounce a ball into other players’ lower legs. Anyone successfully hit has to leave the pit.

“We really liked playing Gaga (ball) at camp,” said Dahlen.

The girls were also looking for a silver award project for Girl Scouts. The silver award is one of the highest achievements available for Girl Scouts; it requires Girl Scouts to complete a project that benefits the community and helps build leadership, Fagnant explained.

“It’s just an honor to have an award that high in Girl Scouts,” Fagnant said.

They saw the Gaga ball pit as a great game that could help bring the community together and promote exercise, Sorenson said. Plus, it’s something that Hastings doesn’t already have. The YMCA has a portable Gaga ball pit, Dahlen said, but there were no permanent pits in the city parks.

Once they settled on the project, the girls got to work finding an appropriate design. They researched a number of styles and settled on one that’s about 24 feet in diameter. The walls of the pit are made of wood and stand about three feet tall. They picked a design that had a hinged gate so it would be handicap accessible as well as easier for young kids to get in and out of. The inside will have a bed of wood chips.

The money for the materials was donated in memory of Pat Langenfeld.

Design in hand, the Girl Scouts worked next with the Hastings Parks and Recreation Department to see the pit installed. Although the girls and their group of volunteers did most of the work, the Parks Department helped with some pieces, like digging the holes for the posts, Fagnant said.

The work was completed this past Sunday, Sept. 18. Now, the girls will have to complete a final report on the project detailing their hours, process and tasks, their reasons for getting involved and the benefit their project provides to the community.

Sorenson said she hopes the project will create a positive change in the community, and that this first Gaga ball pit will be a successful one. She said she’d like to see the feature added to other parks around the city as well.

Open house

The Girl Scouts are also working to make sure the community knows how to use the new Gaga ball pit. On Friday, Sept. 23, from 6:30-8 p.m., they’ll host an open house at the pit and will teach anyone who shows up how to play the game. In case there are too many people to play at once, they also are planning to teach some other field games.

At the open house, they hope to record their demonstrations on video. Afterwards, they hope to produce an instructional video using the footage from the open house. A sign on the Gaga ball pit is expected to have a QR code that people can scan to watch the video.

Pleasant Park is located at Pleasant Drive and 20th Street in Hastings.