Youngsters have a new place to play in Elmwood Township. A nautically themed playground, part of the revamped Greilickville Harbor Park, was dedicated Saturday with the help of Traverse City native and host of HGTV’s “Carter Can,” Carter Oosterhouse.

Families celebrated the opening of the new play area with a picnic lunch, face painting, balloon twisting demonstrations and posing for pictures with Oosterhouse while sand sculptor Ray Villafane created a massive aquatic scene on the beach.

Oosterhouse’s nonprofit foundation, Carter’s Kids, was instrumental in building the new playground, replacing the former play area where Oosterhouse says he played as a kid.

“I loved playing here when we were little kids. Coming back for this project has been a fantastic opportunity for me to give back to Traverse,” said Oosterhouse, whose group travels around the country building playgrounds, mostly in low income areas, to help keep kids active while fighting childhood obesity.

“Once we found out about this project, it all came together very quickly,” said Oosterhouse, noting that donations from the Ken and Faye Shaw family and the Art and Mary Schmuckal Foundation made the playground a reality.

Charter Township of Elmwood supervisor Jack Kelly said that until the township received donations totalling $45,000, prospects for a state of the art playground were slim.

“The reality of the situation was that we did not expect to be in a position to install any new playground equipment on site, except for perhaps a set of swings, until next year at the earliest,” Kelly said.

Instead, the playground complex now includes areas to climb, slide, spin and swing.

“My kids just love it here; we already have plans to come back tomorrow for a party,” said Shelly Stanton, of Elmwood Township, while watching her 3- and 5-year-old daughters play.

In addition to the playground area, the park features improved beach access, a promenade and new picnic pavilions with restroom facilities made possible with grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Kellogg Foundation and Rotary Charities of Traverse City. A formal park dedication and ribbon cutting are planned for 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 28.

Plans for a second set of bathrooms and a bridge linking the park with adjacent Traverse City Light & Power property are planned for next spring.