Excitement is in the air this week on Proprietor’s Drive in Marshfield, where members of the community are getting ready for the grand opening of a Boys and Girls Club more than four times the size of the old location, with a gymnasium and a playing field.
The gym alone is larger than the old club and about the same size as the gym at the town’s Furnace Brook Middle School. Summer programming has expanded, too, with a full day of activities and field trips for children 6 and up, instead of the afternoon-only program of the past.
Organizers hope some of the invited celebrities turn out for the opening ceremony Saturday, though few have confirmed. On the invitation list are actor Steve Carell and Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, both of whom own homes in Marshfield. Tyler is on tour and not expected.
US senators Scott Brown and John Kerry are invited, as are a few locals who appeared in the biographical movie “The Fighter,” including Scituate’s Erica McDermott, who played a sister of boxer Micky Ward, and Lowell police Sergeant Mickey O’Keefe, who played himself as Ward’s trainer.
William Bowers, president-elect of the club, said US Representative William Keating has confirmed he will attend.
Games and activities for children and their families start at 2 p.m., and the formal dedication and ribbon cutting are set for 3 p.m. at 37 Proprietor’s Drive, behind Roche Bros. supermarket. Afterward, the public is welcome to tour the building and participate in more activities for the youngsters.
“I hope people will get a sense of what their kids could be involved in if they want to,” Bowers said.
For the nine-week summer program, which started at the new location Monday, each week has a theme: time travel, animals, colors, “Survivor,” “Wacky Week,” music, “All-Star Week,” water, and nature.
Children were in awe when they first stepped into the building, and when the end of the day came, some didn’t want to leave, said Erin Ahearn, assistant program director. “Their faces, when they came in, like, lit up,” she said. “They were, like, ‘Oh my gosh, this place is so big.’”
On the third day of operations, the club buzzed with activity. It was time-travel week, and the youngsters were “traveling” back to the Wild West, trying their hands at lassoing and other themed activities.
Meanwhile, workers outside installed personalized bricks from the buy-a-brick fund-raiser, and, inside, executive director James Moriarty had to cope with a brief outage of the credit card machine.
“We got 90 kids our first day,” he said. “They are just loving this building. The parents are thrilled, and the kids are having a blast.”
Families pay annual tuition of $50 per child, with a maximum of $100 for each family. Bowers said the rates are likely to rise in the new building, but not by much, and will not exceed $125 per family. The club offers payment plans and will not turn away any child for financial reasons, he said.
During the school year, bus transportation will be available from all Marshfield schools for a separate fee that has not been finalized.
The club offers a computer lab with 12 stations and a learning center where volunteers help youngsters with their homework during the school year. “The majority of kids that attend the club hit that room first,” Bowers said, adding that it takes a huge burden off working parents who might not be able to help their children until late in the evening.
Teens get their own 800-square-foot room with air hockey, ping-pong, television, and a small computer area, part of an effort to attract more teens to the club. The old building catered mainly to elementary school students.
The club also has an all-ages game room and hopes to find a donor for a big-screen television, 70 inches or larger, for movie nights. The game room shares space with an art center, separated by an accordion wall that can be opened for big events. Together, the two spaces total nearly 1,500 square feet.
The building has a commercial kitchen as well.
Outside, a multipurpose playing field lies ready. The club splurged on sod to make sure the grass would be strong enough to use this summer.
The nonprofit organization controls 10 acres of a 30-acre parcel of town-owned land. Bowers said Marshfield gave the club a 40-year lease at $1 a year, and considering the generous support of the community so far, he believes the club will be welcome indefinitely.
Construction wrapped up on time, and at slightly less than the $3.1 million budget. Bowers said community support in the form of monetary and in-kind donations has been remarkable.
The clubhouse will be named in honor of donors Pat and Barbara Roche of Marshfield. Patrick “Pat” Roche, who died last month at 83 after suffering a head injury in a fall, cofounded the Roche Bros. supermarket chain. The couple gave $1 million and kick-started the capital campaign.