Troutville’s “Friends of the Park” Finds Ways to Fund Gazebo

Rachel Nichols, owner of the Apple Barn in Troutville attends the gazebo’s dedication last Saturday.

The power of Cat’s Meow may not be known to everyone, but obviously it is a mighty force. In Troutville the little collectibles recently helped purchase a gazebo for the town’s terrific park.

Saturday, members of Friends of the Park dedicated the new gazebo at their Party in the Park gala. Proceeds from that event, which is in its fifth year, go toward park upkeep.

Rachel Nichols, owner of Apple Barn II, which is within a block of the park, last year began creating a Troutville Park Cat’s Meow collectible. “She paid for everything,” Friends of the Park Chairman Lee Minnix said. “She worked hard at it.”

Not only did Nichols have the collectible created, in August she donated the sales of the first 75 pieces to the Friends of the Park for the purchase of the gazebo. The two-piece collectible sold for $40 and the gazebo, which cost $3,000, was paid for in two weeks.

Nichols has been selling Cat’s Meow collectibles in her Apple Barn stores in Botetourt for 20 years. She is the number one seller of Cat’s Meow in the country. She has helped create over 250 pieces for the line. Many of the pieces represent local historic structures and colleges. Her best-selling collectable is a red, white and blue Mill Mountain Star.

About a year ago, “some of the Friends of the Park mentioned they would like a gazebo,” Nichols said. The 10′ gazebo would provide a place for parents to sit and watch their children as they played on the swings, carousel, and other equipment.

She thought this was a fine idea. “The park is kind of dear to my heart,” she said. “I’ve got great-grandchildren who play there now.” Her  grandchildren also played in the park, and she knew that covered seating closer to the equipment would be welcome.

So she designed the Cat’s Meow collectible herself. She was so sure that the gazebo would be purchased that she went ahead and included it in the design.

The Town of Troutville, with labor provided by Scott Paderick and Cecil Bingham, poured the footers and laid the foundation. The Troutville Volunteer Fire Department donated the concrete and cement.

In spite of a gray day, about 200 area residents turned out to see the gazebo dedication and to take part in Party in the Park events on Saturday. Because it was September 11, the park was decorated in red, white and blue in support of those who lost loved ones on that infamous day and in support of soldiers who are in warzones today.

Party in the Park activities included a children’s bicycle parade, face painting, a cake tasting contest, and music by the band Exit 162.

Nichols also sold Troutville Park Cat’s Meow collectibles from a place of honor at the gazebo. All proceeds for collectibles sold that day were donated to the Friends of the Park for park upkeep.

By Anita Firebaugh
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