Remembering Tracy Forrest
Longtime resident of Winter Park and founder of Winter Park Construction (WPC), Tracy Forrest (70 years of age) passed in October from brain cancer. Tracy was buried at Palm Cemetery in Winter Park just a few miles away from a community playground which he helped to create. We were recently reminded about the playground story (along with several others) illustrating Tracy’s impact on the Central Florida community.
We talked with Trevor Hall, Jr. who at the time was a Winter Park resident and has a long career as a land broker with Colliers International. In 1987 he was part of a steering committee, headed up by Dr. Wendy Brandon and friends hoping to build a big Robert Leathers playground. In an elevator, Trevor asked Tracy if he would like to be involved. When he said yes, the project got a huge boost. Tracy was all in from the start.
The City of Winter Park had designated an overgrown plot of land located at 255 South Denning Drive for a community playground, but there were no funds allocated for materials or construction. Tracy, Trevor, and the committee spent months procuring commitments, calling in favors and fundraising. With 700 volunteers on site, the project was completed in an amazing and action-packed five-day period November 4 – 8. 1987.
Trevor recalls that Tracy was steadfast in his efforts to recruit from his pool of WPC contacts which included a long list of tradesmen, material suppliers and craftsmen donating time and efforts. Trevor was a developer at the time and did the same. Everyone involved filled a specific role in the creation of the project. The improvements include the restrooms, the parking lot, trees and the big shade structure surrounding the playground structures, all at no cost to the City. There is a bronze plaque there with the names of significant donors. Many were brought in by Tracy.
It is a story of teamwork and community building, led by Tracy, WPC and so many others. The project included hundreds of volunteers with the youngest and oldest being Trevor’s 3-year old son and Shirley, his grandmother, the Nail Queen, who presided over the trailer dispensing supplies to the workers. From nail counting to fundraising, feeding the troops and building the terrific playground structures it was truly a team effort, exactly the type of project that Tracy loved being in the middle of, taking charge. By late Sunday afternoon, there was a ceremonious opening and the kids were turned loose. They have been playing there ever since.