Being responsible for the St. Jude playhouse is not child's play. It's serious business, but for a good cause. For the third year in a row the Minden Fire Department is building a fun, theme-based playhouse to be raffled at the annual Minden St. Jude Auction.
Playing off the popularity of the A&E television show Duck Dynasty, this year's playhouse theme is "Hunting for a Cure," and the playhouse is a duck blind that will make an outdoorsmen out of any child.
"I like the morals of the Robertson family with Duck Dynasty," said Jenny Mourad, who is the chairman of the playhouse for the St. Jude Auction.
"Children in this area love to hunt. I find it to be good, wholesome fun for children, and I felt like it would be a good way to promote our cause to raise money for St. Jude."
Assistant Fire Chief Guy Mandino said firefighters Adam Bradley and Corey Plunkett drew a picture of what a duck blind for kids might look like.
"We don't have real plans," he said. "We just go by a drawing and make our adjustments along the way."
Still in the very early building stages, the duck blind playhouse is being constructed in the bay area at Central Fire Station on Sheppard Street.
Firefighters work on it while they are on duty.
Mandino said he isn't sure of the exact size.
"I just know the size of the bay door, and the playhouse has to go through that door when it's finished," he said. "That door is 11 feet, 11 inches wide and 10 feet, seven inches high."
The bottom part will resemble a log cabin with bunk beds and other furniture and a tin roof, which will be accessed by a ladder at the back, will be the "duck blind" portion with a metal safety railing. Mourad said she hopes for a seven-foot slide from the roof to ground.
The front porch will be propped up by rough-hewn wood with shotgun shells hammered into the porch floor. It is already wired for electricity.
"It is very safe," Mandino said. "The child's parents will be responsible for plugging in the playhouse, so the child can never be playing in it without the parent knowing if the electricity is being used."
Mandino said it will probably take the firefighters up until the auction to finish it, working around the clock shifts when they aren't fighting fires.
"I will go help (Assistant Fire Chief) Tommy John's (Hughes) crew, and he'll come help mine – even when we're off," Mandino said. "We don't mind. When I start thinking about how much work it is, I just remember why we're doing it. It's a labor of love."
Two years ago, firefighters built a firehouse that earned $24,000 for the auction. Last year, a schoolhouse brought in $26,000. Raffle tickets are $10 each, and St. Jude auction personnel and Minden firefighters hope the duck blind will set another record.
The Minden St. Jude Auction dates are Thursday, January 30 through Sunday, February 2.