When Hurricane Matthew hit on Oct. 8, 2016, the storm spared the Bluffton home of Marcie and Bob Zanzig, but brought down a large oak tree in their back yard.
As life slowly returned to normal after the storm, Bob Zanzig, his son and his son-in-law spent the next couple of months working, bit by bit, to remove the tree that lay across the back yard. Then Marcie Zanzig had the idea to turn the still-substantial remains of the tree into a playground for their three grandchildren.
Once started, the project quickly took on a life of its own as the family added elements such as a fort, a rope bridge, a treetop castle, climbing bars, swings and, finally, a zip line to the assemblage they now call the Hurricane Matthew Hangout.
“I’ve got about 6,000 nails and screws in this thing,” said Zanzig as he watched grandson Hudson Boyles, 2, play on the tree.
He said the zip line is made from professional grade materials he acquired from a company called Backyard zip lines, but the rest of the structure is a mishmash of reclaimed wood and playground equipment. But it’s solid as a rock and designed for the safety of the kids, Bob said.
“It’s all attached to the tree, and it’s not going anywhere,” he said.
Everyone in the family joined in the hangout’s creation, said Anna Boyles, the Zanzigs’ daughter, and mother to Hudson.
Building it was fun, she said, “and we love it.”
The family already is planning the next addition: another zip line that will run from hangout to the far end of their yard.
“It’s still going,” Bob Zanzig said, laughing.
Jay Karr: 843-706-8150