OGDEN -- The Hershey Company and Nike put their best foot forward Thursday, unveiling an interactive playtop at the 4th Street Ball Park Complex, the first in North America made from about 4,000 recycled sneakers.
The 35-foot-by-19-foot playtop at 502 Wall Ave. is valued around $50,000.
Last year, Hershey's Track & Field Games Program teamed up with Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program to collect worn-out athletic shoes at meets in the U.S. and Canada, Jim George, Hershey's vice president of corporate social responsibility, said during Thursday's dedication ceremony.
Nike in turn recycled the shoes into Nike Grind, a material used to create surfaces like tracks, basketball courts and playgrounds, said George.
During the 2011 season, Hershey challenged communities to increase participation in the company's track and field program by 10 percent to introduce more kids to the fun of running, jumping and throwing. The prize for the effort was an interactive play space made of Nike Grind.
Utah demonstrated a 154 percent increase in youth participation, which was the most in the nation, and the Ogden Track Club was randomly selected as the winner of the play space, George said.
Hershey is pleased that Ogden was chosen for the play space, as the company coincidentally has a distribution center in Business Depot Ogden, said George.
Simon Lofts, director of Sustainable Business & Innovation for Nike, said the new play space supports the company's mission to be environmentally conscious. "It's Nike's vision for a better world," he said.
Mayor Matthew Godfrey, a former Weber State University track star, said he is hopeful the play space will help children become interested in track and field.
"I hope you come here and play often," he told kids who attended the dedication ceremony.
He credited Alydia Barton, who heads the Ogden Youth Track Club, with helping to secure the playtop.
The playtop is unique, because it contains 10 underground lights that are set in the surface materials.
Touching each light with a hand or foot activates a series of colors and sounds, prompting the user to participate in activity games. The playtop has five standard activity games: speed, impact, battle, chaser and tennis, but also allows users to create their own games.
Children and adults can play games individually or as a group or team.