September 25, 2023
by Oscar Rennebohm Foundation
The Jeff Erlanger Accessible Playground at Rennebohm Park officially opened last week following moving speeches remembering the disability rights advocate.
A lifelong quadriplegic, Erlanger is most famous for his appearance on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a child which ignited a friendship with host Fred Rogers.
Erlanger went on to (successfully) push for accessible taxicabs in Madison and chair the Board of the Community Living Alliance and Madison Commission on People with Disabilities before his death in 2007 at the age of 36.
In addition to the playground in his name, the city established the Jeff Erlanger Civility in Public Discourse Award in his honor.
The accessible playground is one of five planned for the city, a passion project of the Executive Director of the Madison Parks Foundation, Stephanie Franklin, who spoke at the commemoration. She noted a splash pad will be added to the playground next year.
President of The Oscar Rennebohm Foundation Jennifer Jeffress and former President Steve Skolaski spoke about being present 50 years earlier for the commemoration of the park itself. The foundation’s donation was among the lead gifts to make the playground a reality.