It was like a funeral at Canandaigua Elementary School on Monday. Throughout the day children stopped by the playground to see what's left of it. They say the playground represented more than just recess; it was a place of refuge.
What was once inviting is now forbidden.
"When I first heard, I thought it couldn't be true. I mean you kidding me? And then I came here and here it is," said Zachary Shumaker, a 5th grader at Canandaigua Elementary School.
A fire broke out just after 5 p.m. Sunday.
"It's just a little bit disappointing that we can't go on it, but from the looks of it, it looks pretty good, but when you get a little bit closer look at it, it looks like everything's melted," said Shumaker.
What's left are remnants of hard, plastic canopies that are now ghostly remains, listless, lifeless. Only shadows are left of tunnels and bridges that use to support little feet running, laughing. Now they can barely support the police tape hanging in the distance.
"It's something that hits home to them," said Mark Lavner, Canandaigua Elementary School Principal.
Lavner says the playground was constructed several years ago. It was the main outdoor structure for as many as 900 kids and that's not including those who don't attend Canandaigua Elementary.
"They're out here in the winter months, they're out here in the summer, they're out here with their families and to see something like this literally go up in smoke is going to have a devastating effect on the kids," said Lavner.
It took only 10 minutes for this fire to destroy everything but the swings. Firefighters say this was set intentionally.
"Looking at all the factors and where the fire started there's just no accidental cause that could happen. You couldn't drop a cigarette and have it start a fire for example and we went through all the accidental causes and couldn't find any," said Robert Case, Canandaigua Fire Chief.
In about four weeks, Zachary Shumaker will return to school as a 5th grader. He says he knew things would be different, but he never wanted things to stay the same as badly as he did Monday.
"Can't believe it, whoever did this should be caught, it's just not right to do this," said Shumaker.
The Canandaigua police are now investigating the cause of the fire. School officials plan to salvage what they can before putting in a new playground. They expect to reveal a new one in the spring.