The Magic of Parks and Playgrounds
Here in the Chicago area, we sometimes start to see hints of spring as early as late February or early March, with occasional days of 45 degrees or higher.
This is when it begins.
"Mommy, can we go to the playground?" my nearly-5-year-old daughter asks, on a daily basis.
It takes me back to the days when I asked the same thing of my parents. And, it makes me realize how much of my memory's landscape is shaped by parks.
The "curly slide" at Maxwell Park in Normal, Ill., was a favorite, and the creek that ran through the back of the park was an excellent place to catch "crawdads" and get your feet wet. Every Fourth of July, we picnicked and watched fireworks at Miller Park in Bloomington, Ill. Through college, I would escape to the Parklands Preserve west of Lexington for hikes in the woods, or go sit by the manmade lake at Comlara Park north of town. Road trips and weeklong backpacking adventures in the national forests, parks and monuments of Arizona, Utah, California, Wyoming and other Western states peppered my late teens and early 20s. And later, when I moved to Chicago, lakefront parks and paths beckoned me outdoors, even on the coldest and windiest of days.
All that time, parks and playground were an essential component of the culture I experienced. My interaction in those spaces was an essential building block, making up much of the person I have become.
And I hope that much the same is true for my daughter.
That's one of the reasons I am always so pleased to put together this annual closeup of parks and playgrounds. On these pages, you'll find information that will help you stay on top of trends as you develop your parks and play spaces for the public you serve.
I like to imagine that, like me and my daughter, my family and my friends, Americans everywhere are also learning a little more about themselves in these magical places you create.
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