Cold Weather is Fun at New Castle Park Playground in New Fairfield, Connecticut

IMG_2008Especially in cold weather, children really do have the tendency to “bounce off the walls” with bottled up energy if they are kept inside too much. For this reason, I like to “playground hop” with my son in our town and we also like to visit playgrounds in neighboring towns to add variety and interest to the overall playground experience. So, whenever word gets out about an incredible new playground with all of the latest bells-and-whistles, you bet we’re there to explore it. At last, with Phase Two complete at Castle Park in New Fairfield, my friend with her two girls recently met-up with me and my son after school ended for the day to take full advantage of an unusual “warm spell”. After all, we just had to find out for ourselves what all of the local hype is about.

Arriving at this new, grandiose outdoor playground near New Fairfield High School was a fun-filled experience for the children because the awe-inspiring playground in front of them had so much to offer. Appropriately named “Castle Park”, this playground is way too cool for children of all ages and offers a main playscape that has three castle towers and one gazebo tower with tons of built-in activity centers and walkways to explore.  There are also two smaller playscapes jam-packed with entertaining activities, along with a new swing set with upgrades.

Mesmerized and literally left speechless “taking it all in”, Kaelyn, Kevin, and Ella came to their senses after just a few minutes upon arriving, then raced to the fenced-in entrance as fast as they could possibly run. Each child, forgetting they were on a playdate together, gravitated to completely different points of interest within this new and exciting playground. Left in the dust by this super-active trio, we were wondering if it was actually possible for two moms to lose their children within the confines of a large fenced in play area. Momentarily, I’d say, yes, and then it became clear that it was the other way around because kids can run to all corners and still remain visible to the parents. A definite plus!

Just like Atalanta in Greek Mythology, the quicker of the two 5-year-olds, Kaelyn, continued to run “as fast as the wind” to the first playscape of choice, which is the farthest one away. Ahhh, the one with the different slides to choose from. We lost track of how many times she actually slid down them.

Like a shooting star, Kevin ran to the farthest point of the main playscape. Then, he just had to try the netted bridge made out of rope first. Next, he was swinging like a monkey trying out what appeared to be super-sized car steering wheels suspended in the air.

Lightning fast Ella, the preschooler in the group, bolted to her main attraction, the new swing set in all of its pure loveliness. There’s something hypnotic that happens whenever a preschool child sees swings. Realizing that she needed Mommy to “push” her, she quickly became “unlost” after taking in all of the newness of a sensory swing that was just the right size for her.

About fifteen minutes into exploration, Kevin, Kaelyn, and Ella met up at the balancing beam, and discovered each area’s particularities together by quickly running from one playscape to the other. Fun, fun, fun testing out all the “classics” like the monkey bars and balancing beams along with the “trendy” climbing wall and zip line.  After spinning around in the “spin zone” for a while and getting somewhat dizzy, the children started running from one sensory board to another. They especially enjoyed the “driver’s seat” board that looks just like a truck or racecar’s dashboard and the musical notes soundboard. The children left this area on a “high note” just so they could try out the six very impressive slides, neat climbers, interesting bridges, and clever walkways all over again.

The trio didn’t talk much but just played and played together, clearly engrossed with the newness and awesomeness of it all. For over an hour, they didn’t slow down for a minute, not even for snacks, drinks, and a break. This is a sure sign of a very successful playdate outside.

Then, racing against the sky getting dark early, we said “hi” to a Dad and his son from Sherman that arrived at the playground about 15 minutes before darkness set in. Apparently, news travels fast about how marvelous this playground really is. New Fairfield’s Parks & Recreation and Landscape Designs from Newtown did a fantastic job listening to the input of parents advocating for what their children wanted in a new playground. Kudos for doing it right!

The one “extra” to include in a future phase should be ample lighting for the playground area, and not just lighting for the basketball court, which is on the planned list. That way, the children’s playtime doesn’t have to end nearly as early once the clocks get set back again next fall.

As “Playground Connoisseurs”, Castle Park gets five stars. Kaelyn, Kevin, and Ella’s rating is based on their “Happiness Factor” and not wanting to leave the playground. We also can’t wait to see what the smaller future phases of “extras” will be as this project continues to evolve. I have made a mental note to go to more of the Parks & Recreation’s sponsored events that help to continue to fund this beauty of a playground. Thank you New Fairfield Parks & Recreation!

Visit the Town of New Fairfield’s website regularly for scheduled Parks & Recreation events: http://newfairfield.org/content/209/253/default.aspx

This original article and photo by Alicia Sakal appeared in the December 17th Edition of the Citizen News, serving Sherman and New Fairfield, Connecticut.

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