2 children were hurt after someone bear-sprayed a slide at Juneau’s Twin Lakes Park

a person washes playground equipment with a power washer
Logan Coleman prepares to power wash a slide at Twin Lakes Park on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. City officials said the cleaning process could take at least a week. (Katie Anastas/KTOO)

At least two children needed medical attention last week after someone sprayed bear spray on a slide in Juneau’s Twin Lakes Park.

George Schaaf, the city’s parks and recreation director, said the first report came in last Tuesday.

“Their child had encountered some kind of irritant in one of the slides at the playground,” he said. “When we sent a crew out there to take a look at it, it was pretty apparent that it was bear spray.”

The crew found a can of bear spray nearby. They closed the playground and started cleaning.

“They tried everything we could think of – Dawn dish soap and pressure washing and scrubbing, and thought we got it pretty good and pretty clean,” Schaaf said.

The playground reopened on Thursday. But another report of a hurt child came in later that day, so the city closed both slides indefinitely.

Schaaf said they might need to be replaced.

“We basically tried three times now to clean the slides, and I think probably the best thing we can do right now is let them air out a little bit and see if it’ll dissipate that way,” he said. “But if we’re unable to get it safe for folks to use, we’ll end up having to replace them.”

The playground doesn’t have cameras in it. Schaaf said Juneau residents discussed whether it was feasible to install them when the playground was rebuilt after it burned down in 2017.

“Because of the way the playground is designed, it would require an incredible number of cameras to try to cover all of the areas – especially the area where the slides are,” Schaaf said. “It’s inside a tower, and there’s a ton of nooks and crannies inside that tower. It’s not realistic to install cameras in a structure like that.” 

The city is asking anyone with information about the incident to contact the Juneau Police Department.

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