Long Island families trade swing sets for summer budget

Olivia Ulip is looking for a swing.

The West Babylon hairstylist is a 29-year-old single mother with daughters aged 4 and 2. It has two non-negotiable requirements: inexpensive (better yet, free!) and secure.

Ulip posted on a Facebook page called One Parent to Another where members donate articles. After all, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If, of course, you can bring this treasure back to your castle. Taking a swing isn’t as easy as hoisting someone’s free chairs into the back of a van.

Many families are looking for inexpensive or free options for swing sets as inflation soars and the stock market crashes. Some parents are posting in Facebook groups asking others for advice on where to find sets that don’t require an investment of thousands of dollars for the type of playsets sold, for example, at Wood Kingdom in Farmingdale, where the sets begin at $1,700.

Nicole and Brett LaFlamme, of Merrick, with their daughters Sophie, almost 3, left, and Hazel, 18 months, found this swing on sale at Walmart.
Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

The average cost of a set for older kids with a tower and slide, three swings and a rock wall is around $3,000, says store manager Steve Katz. And while demand has increased over the past two years due to the pandemic, it is leveling off according to Katz. However, the interest of creating a garden oasis for children without having to visit parks and public places remains.

Ulip had a free fish on the line – but it slipped away when she discovered the given set was secured in cement. “I don’t know how to get it out of the cement. I will continue to search. I am very determined,” says Ulip. Ulip’s 2-year-old daughter, Lyla, has autism. “She loves to swing on the swings. That’s why I’m looking for a swing to be able to go straight into my garden and have fun with my children.


Ulip hopes to find someone like Jennifer Coppola, a former Bethpage resident who posted her swing on Facebook Marketplace after moving to Florida with her kids — Coppola was happy to give it away for free instead of throwing it away, she says.

Erin Gaffney, 58, from Huntington, who works in real estate, is also looking to pass on her family’s swing – it was a gift from her mother-in-law when her daughters were little. His children are now in their twenties, and even his neighbors’ children, who later came to use him, have passed him. “It’s really no use,” she said. She would like to give him a new life. “It brings so much happiness to children. I would like to take it forward and let other children have fun with it.

Richard and Jenna Brown with their son, Cody, 2, enjoying...

Richard and Jenna Brown with their son, Cody, 2, enjoying time on the garden swing they bought for $200 from a homeowner who preferred space in their yard.
Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The Brown family of Islip also benefited from a landlord who preferred to have the space in his yard. The Browns scored a set on Craigslist for $200, says Jenna Brown, 35, a dietitian, after striking out multiple times on Facebook Marketplace, beaten by others.

“Someone had just posted a few hours ago,” Jenna says. The set was in the next town, and Jenna and her husband, Richard, 35, drove their van, took the set apart and then reassembled it at their home for their son, Cody, 2. They also have a daughter, Abigail. , 14.

“My husband is an ironworker. He is super strong. I couldn’t have done this without him,” says Jenna. “I pressure washed it. It’s perfect. There’s nothing wrong with that, and my son loves it. We were really lucky. Brand new would not have been an option for us.


Nicole LaFlamme, 34, of Merrick was also hesitant to drop thousands of dollars for a set for her daughters, 18-month-old Hazel and nearly 3-year-old Sophie. Buying used didn’t work for her either. “It just wasn’t realistic to pay money and then tear down and reassemble in our yard,” she says.

That’s often the case, says Luis Herrera Carreno, owner of Swing Set Assemblers of Baldwin. He’s been building sets for the Long Islanders for 26 years, mostly new ones, he says. “You see thousands of ads on Facebook Marketplace saying, ‘Take this swing for free,'” Herrera says. But the wood may be rotten, the hardware may be rusty, parts may be missing. “Dismantling an entire swing set is a big challenge depending on the condition of it,” he says.

Instead, watching sales is what ultimately paid off for LaFlamme. “One day I came across an ad on Walmart, $899 reduced to $449,” she says. “My husband and I put it together ourselves. It took about 10 hours. We did it during siesta and when our daughters were sleeping. She and Brett, 35, who both work in media, spent a little extra to buy and attach a Little Tikes swing for the girls.

“They love going on the swings every day now that the weather is nice,” says LaFlamme. “It’s the finishing touch to our garden.”

Andrea Rocha-Gaitan, 30, a West Babylon consultant, was able to pay even less than LaFlamme – she bought a wooden set with slide, canopy and rock wall for $399 to $269, also from Walmart, in May, she says .

The family had a swing set in the backyard of their old home in Copiague that they had paid for $800 five years earlier. When they moved to West Babylon, Rocha-Gaitan’s eldest daughter, now 7, had wanted to bring it with them. “The cost of dismantling, transporting and reassembling was over $500, which didn’t make sense,” says Rocha-Gaitan. The new set was a great solution, she says. “I think it’s high quality and my kids have enjoyed it with their neighbors who are a few years older than them.”

Lynn A. Saleh