Park playground renewal pleases all the senses 

Park playground renewal pleases all the senses 

CNN recently published an article entitled “This is What Happens To Your Body After Months in Isolation.”

I’ll summarize for you: six effects of extreme isolation, all of them bad. 

We know isolation is necessary, yet our options in assuaging its effects are limited at best. How are we to maintain a semblance of sanity when nearly every source of entertainment and diversion has been stifled in its ability to support the needs of families?

My counter to the six effects of extreme isolation: six effects of exploring the new playground equipment at Allyn Brook Park. Get your jacket on. We’re heading out.

This is a multisensory experience for the entire family. Remember when when you signed up for band, without having any idea of what instrument you wanted to play? The only thing you did know: those percussion instruments looked way too daunting. Too many different parts, too much movement … so far from the safety of “Happy Birthday” on your plastic recorder.

Rest assured that the next generation of band students will not have the same trepidation in approaching the percussion section, thanks to the musical play equipment at Allyn Brook, including a child-friendly set of drums. Bright, colorful, interactive, enough to inspire Animal-from-the-Muppets-level confidence in drum playing.

Stroll a few feet to the left, and you will find a vibrant series of panels that lets young visitors create an outdoor symphony with the simple push of buttons.

As one mother of three I spoke to about the experience said, it’s “so nice to see in a small town like this.”

Her only regret was that she “didn’t discover the park sooner.”

No need for regret, this playground is meant to last. 

At Allyn Brook Park no internet connection is required. Multisensory means more than just sound. There is brightness to the playscape that has been completely restored. Repainted, refurbished, shiny, and so inviting that I had to stop myself from climbing aboard, Marty Sloan-style. Climbing wall, slide, curved ladder for exploring new views –  a two-tiered antidote to “there is nothing to do.”

For taste and smell you’ll have to wait for the s’mores event at the park Oct. 25.

A word about safety. I know you must remember K-Mart. I have two favorite memories of the discount store: a blue raspberry Slurpee (why was it blue?) and the cheap rides near the exit. If I was patient while my parents looked at socks and vacuum cleaner bags, I was rewarded with a 25 cent ride on one of those metal atrocities. When my parents said, “Hold on tight!” it wasn't because they were afraid I would fall off. They knew deep down that if my tiny fingers were grasping those fake reins, they weren’t touching the rusty springs or the toxic paint that was peeling off. Each ride was basically an invitation to a tetanus shot. Yet sadly, it was a respite from the tedium of Saturday shopping.  

Good news, the brand new bouncy rides at Allyn Brook are made in the USA, luminous in appearance, they are perfectly suited for toddler-level energy, and fashioned with foot pedals for the ultimate in comfort. A well-made ride that is safe and fun. My inner child is so jealous.  

Jon Scagnelli from Durham Recreation recalled the moment of hearing a child exclaim, “Dad, check out the new playground equipment!” Let me add to that just a little bit, “Dad, have a seat on one of the benches that provides a panoramic view of the entire park, while I enjoy all of this new and restored playground equipment.”

This is a place that provides a safe way to keep an eye on everyone while they enjoy a space designed for kids of all ages. Sounds like a perfect day for me.

And there’s plenty of fresh air. Take off your mask, and breathe without any hesitation.

Imagine this from a child’s perspective: stepping onto the kid-friendly balance beam, waving to your friend on the climbing wall, and savoring the musical composition of your neighbor on the drum set, all from a safe distance.

Connected, not by space, but by community. 



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