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Kids riff on best playgrounds in town.
By Johanna Love, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: July 18, 2012
With at least 10 large playgrounds in the valley, it may be impossible to say which is best.
“They all have their special lures,” said Shannon Borrego, mom to Mira, 2 1/2.
Mira and a toddler friend went playground hopping Thursday, starting with the array of slides at Miller Park, then riding their bicycles on the concrete basketball court at Davey Jackson Elementary School and ending at Mike Yokel for a dip in Cache Creek.
For school-age kids, however, Colter Elementary School seems to have a corner on the market, says nanny Morgan Lunsford.
Whenever she asks her charges, two boys ages 8 and 5, where to take them, Lunsford said, “They say Colter School! Colter School!”
The extensive red and blue steel structure attracts children possibly because of its diversity.
“I like how many activities it has,” Emma Watkins, 8, said. “You’ve got the slides, climbing walls, all the spinning things and the bounce things.”
Colter’s three “spinning things” are a source of dizzying joy. The school yard also has the most swings of any joint in town: 12.
“During recess, only one grade goes out at a time, so you can always get a swing,” Watkins said.
This review of the valley’s facilities attempts to describe the finer points of each.
Colter Elementary School
Features: A wobbling walkway, three spinning devices (there’s always a wait to ride the rocket), two tether ball poles, three tall slides, two short slides, small climbing wall, 12 swings.
Kids say: “I like this thingy,” Harry Tebay, 8, said of the atom-like climbing structure, his legs slung over the nucleus. The incoming third-grader goes to Colter whenever he can so he’ll be familiar with at least one part of the school by fall.
Features: Picnic shelter, restrooms, sand volleyball court that doubles as the valley’s largest sandbox, horseshoe pits, two regular swings and two infant swings, a giant 20-foot-long web of rope ladders, monkey bars, two spinning structures, three small seats that spin, two traditional swings and two baby swings, four short slides, two upside-down slides (with no sides, so you can lock limbs around it and slide down underneath, too) and the calming roar of Cache Creek as it drops over a couple of railroad ties.
Kids say: “The spinny chairs,” said Mylee McCool, 9.
“I love the stream,” said Elsa Knoke, 10. “Except the part where I fall down face first. And the upside-down slide.”
“The brown pole with spinning thing,” Sophie Parker, 10, said. “We sit on it,” and an adult spins it around.
Features: Rock wall, tall structure with five small to tall slides, two big swings and two infant swings, play house, green open space, restrooms, tennis and basketball court, picnic shelters.
Kids say: “Here’s your cheeseburger.” On Thursday, a crew of cousins from Evanston and Kansas City, Mo., were using the play house as a concession stand, “selling” handfuls of wood chips.
Grownups say: Grandmother Sue Kallin, of Jackson, likes the shade trees and that it’s far enough from the street that she don’t have to worry about children running into traffic. Her daughter, Michelle Jones, of Evanston, likes that the swings don’t squeak. “The kids get loud enough,” the mother of three said.
Features: The front playground, reserved during the school year for kindergarten and first-grade classes, has a stegosaurus-shaped monkey bar set, two digger cranes, a shaded sandbox, four big swings, two infant swings and six slides.
The rear playground, usually for students in second grade, offers six swings, two tall slides and five smaller slides, a 6.5-foot basketball hoop and a covered-wagon structure with small slide.
Features: Small play structure with two tall slides, a short slide, a crawling tube connecting levels, two regular swings and two infant swings. Adjacent to Teton Boulder Park, it offers climbing for all ages. There also is a picnic shelter, horseshoe pits and open space.
Kids say: “It has a lot of grass, so you can frolic and run around,” said Griffen Anderson, 6. “There’s a big ladder there that I like to climb on.”
“I love these swings,” said Sophia Shippen, 6. “Swings are the best things on playgrounds.”
As her father, Kent, told her it was time to go, she pumped her legs to get enough speed for a spectacular dismount, launching at the apex of her arc and sticking the landing in her sparkly purple sneakers.
Features: With dozens of backyards facing it, some with privacy fences, this playground is situated in the middle of a subdivision. The king of the facility is its 8.5-foot-high slides, one of which slopes at a 45-degree angle, the other is a tube that curls around 270 degrees. There’s also a plastic lava-fall with molded steps and handles, old-school items like a chain-hung step for balancing and chin-up bars, four swings, a smaller slide platform, a gravel pit with two digging machines and three spring-mounted riding objects: a horse, a motorcycle and a fire chief’s car. Onlookers enjoy four picnic tables, four playground-edge benches and a Porta-Potty.
Kids say: “It has the best slide, a steep slide that I like,” Griffen said.
Features: Sand volleyball court, picnic shelter, horseshoe pits, four slides (including a behemoth 9-foot-tall tube that twists almost 360 degrees), two regular swings, two infant swings and an assortment of monkey bars.
Kids say: “It’s really kid-friendly, and it’s hard to get hurt, even though it looks sketchy,” said Lyla Kirkpatrick, 9.
“I like how they have a lot of slides, and they all go different speeds,” said Carly Kirkpatrick, 8.
Grown-ups say: “We can go from here to get breakfast at Nora’s, and it’s a nice stroll through the creek and marsh,” dad Scott Kirkpatrick said.
Features: Two regular swings, two baby swings, one tall, enclosed slide, three smaller slides on a basic structure with a long monkey bar section. There’s also a softball field, horseshoe pits, picnic shelter and nice restroom.
Kids say: “I like the monkey bars there,” Emma said.
Features: This aging wooden structure offers a baby swing, three big swings, a tire swing, a curly slide and a straight slide, a rope ladder and a climbing wall with rope for assistance. Signs proclaim: “Residents and guests only” and “For children under 12 only.”