Russian Jack's polar bear gets a name

mdunham@adn.comFebruary 1, 2013 

A giant polar bear head is lowered onto supports as David Murphy, top, signals to loader operator Todd Anderson while below from left Zack Prouty, Brad DeVeny and David Short assist at North Russian Jack Springs Park Friday September 21, 2012 at 8th Avenue and Pine Street. The crew from GMG General, Inc. is installing Alaska-themed play structures in a revitalization effort at the park, which formerly featured two decrepit tennis courts. "We're very excited!," said Beth Nordlund of the Anchorage Park Foundation. "We've been waiting for the rain to stop." The polar bear play structure will feature a blue-black bear tongue as a slide. Corvus Design envisioned the play area, and funding was delivered by the state legislature. The glass fiber reinforced concrete head is among several playground pieces custom-built for the park. "It's definitely got some weight to it," said Anderson.

ERIK HILL — Anchorage Daily News Buy Photo

The 13-foot tall concrete and steel polar bear playground slide at North Russian Jack Springs Park has an official name, "Nola."

The name was suggested in an essay by sisters -- Natalya Sailiaga Pearson and Paradise Ioana Pearson in a contest sponsored by the Anchorage Park Foundation. Both attend Chester Valley Elementary School, where Natalya is in third grade and Paradise is in first grade.

"The essay was well-written," said Beth Nordlund, the foundation's executive director. "It was a good story and a good name."

Installation of the bear began last fall in the park off Pine Street. It is still surrounded by a fence and "not available for play," Nordlund said. But when the playground opens this summer, children will be able to climb into the head of the bear and slide down its long blue-black tongue. Nordlund called it "the coolest piece of playground equipment in Anchorage."

The Pearson sisters' essay, titled "Nola's New Home," will be posted on a plaque next to the bear.

Honorable mentions in the contest, judged by a panel that included representatives of the Anchorage School District and Russian Jack Community Council, include Laila Tose and Brylee Jones, both third graders at College Gate Elementary, Brianna Baldwin, a sixth grader at Rabbit Creek Elementary, Garrett Doty, a fifth grader at Chester Valley Elementary, and Julius Abud, a fourth grader at Russian Jack Elementary.

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332. 

In an earlier version of this story, the middle name of Paradise Pearson was misspelled. It is Ioana, not Iona.


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