Groundbreaking Held for Mickey’s Kingdom Playground

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and representatives of the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Evansville Police Department held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 to officially launch a community build project to replace Kids Kingdom playground and to announce the new play structure will be named Mickey’s Kingdom.Mickey's Kingdom logo

Mickey’s Kingdom will be located along the Evansville riverfront on city-owned property at Sunset Park adjacent to the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. The site is not far from the original Kids Kingdom at Sunrise Park near Veterans Memorial Parkway and Shawnee Drive.

 “I am excited about the community coming together to build Mickey’s Kingdom. It’s time to replace Kids Kingdom, which has served our community well for the past 15 years drawing approximately 100,000 visitors annually,” Mayor Winnecke said. “This is another quality of life project that will transform this area and attract more visitors to our beautiful riverfront.”

Mickey’s Kingdom will be approximately 20,000 square feet, more than double the size of Kids Kingdom. At its highest point the play structure will be seven feet above the levee wall, giving visitors a panoramic view of the Ohio River and Downtown Evansville skyline. It will feature a pirate ship and interactive play stations that are all inclusive so children of all abilities can play together in a fun and safe environment.

Mickey’s Kingdom is named for Mykenna “Mickey” Phernetton who suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome. Her father, Evansville police officer Sgt. Patrick Phernetton, was one of the original founders of the GUNS & HOSES annual boxing charity event and helped establish the nonprofit organization 911 Gives Hope to benefit people with special needs and help maintain Kids Kingdom. When plans to build a group home for children with Prader-Willi Syndrome ran into obstacles, the 911 Gives Hope Board of Directors voted to redirect $320,000 earmarked for the housing project to replace Kids Kingdom.

 “The original Kids Kingdom will always have a special place in my heart, I refer to it as one of my kids, but this new one will serve the children of our area into another generation,” said Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin, who established Kids Kingdom with Evansville police officer Lt. Paul Kirby. “The new playground will take up a larger foot print, rise higher into the sky, be built with better quality materials, will be fully accessible for kids of all abilities and will be named after someone who is very dear to me – Mickey’s Kingdom has a very nice ring to it.” Kids Kingdom will remain open until Mickey’s Kingdom is complete.

The construction of Mickey’s Kingdom will cost approximately $1 million, according to Parks Department Executive Director Brian Holtz. That does not include donated labor and in-kind donations, which will bring the value to more than $1.8 million.

The project will be paid for with public, private and corporate donations. Donations may be made online. Visit the City of Evansville website at, scroll over “Departments” at the top of the page and click “Parks & Recreation” for the link. Or send a check or money order to City of Evansville Department of Parks and Recreation, 100 E. Walnut Street, Evansville, IN 47708, and designate “Mickey’s Kingdom” on the check memo line.

Work on restrooms and site utilities will begin in May. Volunteers will be recruited for community build September 14-23. For more information on how you can get involved, contact the Evansville Department of Parks and Recreation at 812-435-6141.