It's 2012 mamas, and we made it through another school year. Summer kind of snuck up on me this year, possibly because it is 63 degrees outside. (I think weather.com is being generous.) It occurred to me last night that allowing the children to stay in their rooms and play Minecraft until they resemble Jell-o is probably not an acceptable plan for the Summer.
Fortunately, Metro Parks offers a great plan B in the form of the Summer Playground Program, free supervised play at six Tacoma parks. Due to construction projects, the program site list is pared down a bit from previous years:
- Jefferson Park, 801 N Mason Ave.
- Jane Clark Park, 4825 N 39th St.
- McKinley Playfield, 4321 McKinley Ave
- Portland Ave. Park, 3513 Portland Ave.
- South Park, 4851 S Tacoma Way
- Wright Park, 501 South I St.
There is no playground program or food service this year at Franklin and Manitou parks.
Last year's tasty change in lunch offerings has stuck around, though. Metro Parks continues to contract with Subway for healthy lunches, offered free to anyone under the age of 18 through the USDA. Today's lunch was a 6 inch turkey, ham, and cheese sandwich on whole wheat, served alongside a Yami yogurt cup, baby carrots and a half an orange.
Lunch is served from 12-1 pm Monday through Friday, followed by a snack at 4. Kids are expected to eat their meals on-site. Any unopened food can be placed in a "sharing box" for other kids, but uneaten food must be thrown away.
Metro Parks staff oversees fun activities and fitness programs, but does not keep track of the kids as they come and go, so make sure you are there to supervise your kids unless you feel they are ready for that kind of freedom.
All of the parks in the program have some type of water play feature (Jane Clark and Portland Ave have wading pools, the rest have spraygrounds.) Even today, we shivered as we watched some brave children run through the sprayground, so be sure to pack swimsuits or a change of clothes, as well as a towel and sunscreen.
*not all of these are Metro Parks sites, they may serve different food
Update: Kevin Glackin-Coley of St. Leo's Food Connection wanted to make sure everyone knew about their Summer Meals Program, with sites in Tacoma, Lakewood and the Skagit Valley. They offer a choice of a sandwich or salad every day, as well as fresh fruits, veggies and milk. Meals are free to anyone 18 and under. Tacoma park locations include McCarver Park and Stewart Heights.