The Magic Mushroom

One of the best places to take those restless kids is beautiful Krull Park. The playground has lots to keep them busy and plenty of shade for me under the majestic trees. My niece and I took three youngsters there today after lunch at the local Chinese restaurant, and while we may have been ready for a nap after the mid-day dose of carbs, the energizer kids didn’t show any signs of slowing down. The 10 year-old has  visited the park in summers past, when a giant polka-dot mushroom rose from the wading pool, water cascading from it’s top to create a waterfall. Alas, the mushroom was gone last year and I just assumed it had outlived its day (or insurance costs were too high as is so often the case these days). As we pulled into the park and up to the playground, a huge red dome sparkled in the sun. The mushroom is back! The 5 year-olds were in awe, even though they had spent the morning in a pool at home, and the bigger guy just smiled at the memories of that cold-water shower! How could we say no? “Sure, go ahead and jump in wearing your shorts; you’ve been wet before.”

There were the tiniest of waders there, with moms catching rays and keeping watch. When the cute doggie came by on a leash, the munchkins all waded through the water to greet the pooch poolside. It is the stuff that childhood should be made of- free, imaginative play, sunshine and soaring trees and a chance to get wet while squealing and laughing out loud. Add a few bottles of bubbles and the day turns into magic…for free. Our restaurant lunch could just as easily have been PB&J sandwiches and fruit from a bag. (Don’t forget plenty of water on these hot days).

If you haven’t been to Krull Park lately, pack up some dogs for the grill or grab your favorite brown bag munchies and enjoy nature’s splendor. We have so much natural beauty here that it’s a shame to waste it by staying indoors. If you really feel the need to spend cash on those kids and grandkids, head across the street to the Olcott Carousel Park, where kiddy rides are 25 cents. Big kids get to ride the magnificent merry-go-round, and there’s always Skee Ball to bring back memories!

Are there inexpensive places and attractions that your kids really enjoy? Share them with the other families looking to save gas these days by adding a comment. Enjoy the summer!

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