KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The City of Knoxville held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday to reopen the Fort Kid playground after being closed for almost three years.

The playground is next to World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville and was originally built in 1991. It was closed in April 2020 to be rebuilt after the original wooden structures were worn down.

Alicia Willis attended the reopening and first came to Fort Kid with her family when she was 13 years old.

“We were raised here at this park and I love the fact that we now have a new Fort Kid for me to bring my kids to play,” she said.

Willis brought her eldest daughter to the park when she was a kid.

“I brought her here to play a long time ago, now she’s 26 and getting ready to have her own family,” she said. “Maybe one day she can bring her own kids here to play.”

Willis recently wrote a book about her life titled, “Belize Children Rescued Just in Time,” in which she talks about her adoptive family bringing her to the park for the first time. She plans to put the profits from her book towards her daughter’s college fund.

Willis also has a 7-year-old daughter, Miracle, who she can now bring to Fort Kid.

Victor Ashe was the mayor of Knoxville when Fort Kid was originally built and said it was a big part of his kids’ childhood.

“I brought my kids here, my son was born the year before this opened, my daughter was born the next year. We used to come when they were 3, 4, 5 years old and it’s a great place,” Ashe said.

He added the new park is very different from the original, which needed repairs.

“Fort Kid 1 lasted 31 years, then there was a 3-year hiatus where it was basically a vacant lot and now we have this. Hopefully, people use it, it’ll be a fun place, but really in my mind, it’s Fort Kid 2, not the original Fort Kid,” Ashe said.

The new playground includes an 18-foot tall, 35 feet long slide making it the biggest one in Knoxville.

Mayor Indya Kincannon said the new playground will be accessible for those with mobility impairments.

“One of the most important things I’m proud of about this newly reimagined Fort Kid is that it’s inclusive, it’s a design that’s universal, that’s available and open to everybody,” Kincannon said. “There’s a fully accessible merry-go-round and a new accessible safe playing surface.”

Kincannon also said there is an ADA-accessible ramp and walkway from the playground to the Knoxville Museum of Art.

The playground was funded by the city and through private donors, including Thomas and Lindsey Boyd, the Downtown Knoxville Alliance and Visit Knoxville.