Guest Column - March 2009
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New Heights in Play

By Michael A. Sutton

Just as there are many benefits to adding height to a playground design, there are also many challenges in ensuring that the playground will be safe and compliant. From the manufacturer's perspective, we are bound by so many design criteria that it is sometimes difficult to break through with new and innovative products. Play structures that comply with all of the applicable standards and guidelines for a safe play environment, while also providing children the thrill, sensation and satisfaction of height and the reasonable challenge that goes with it represent a real breakthrough.

Communities all over the United States and beyond have embraced these soaring playgrounds. They have become true play destinations for many families. Communities like Roswell, Ga., Fort Pierce, Fla., Washington Township, Ind., Sacramento, Calif., Richmond Heights, Mo., Wentzville, Ill., Pascagoula, Miss. and Del Webb Communities in Arizona have all installed this type of playground. The response from their citizens has been remarkable.

Another unique benefit of the tower playground is a smaller footprint. You can provide significantly more play space and value in a much smaller area than traditional linear designs. This is not to say that there is no place for a traditional modular play structure in the market. Any well-designed playground will enhance your community. Tower-type structures also provide abundant opportunities for realistic theme designs, such as space shuttles, lighthouses, tree houses, farms, bridges and buildings.

As adults, we must admit that we experience a certain sense of awe combined with a feeling of well-being when we are placed in an environment that allows us to observe vast landscapes or skylines from a safe location positioned above the view. Children don't need an observation deck on top of the Empire State Building or a platform overhanging the edge of the Grand Canyon to enjoy a similar experience. They only need a safe, yet challenging play environment that affords them the sense of well-being, awe and accomplishment that goes with reaching the top.


Michael Sutton is the director of sales for Miracle Recreation Equipment Company. He has more than 25 years of diverse experience in the park and playground industry, including municipal parks and recreation, playground inspection and installation, and ownership of an independent playground sales agency. For more information, visit