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The Playground; A Review

A modern metal and plastic playground has taken the place of the wooden playground that many locals recall from their childhoods in Andover. Today's elementary students do not even know the wonders of the tire jungle or the myriad of crawl spaces in the wooden castle. They will never need to judge if their shorts are long enough to prevent a burn from the high polish metal slide.

This new playground has been in place for several years with several upgrades made since it's inception. At present the playground includes 4 regular swings, 2 toddler swings, a tower structure with 3 slides, a zip line, monkey bars, pull up bars, a spider web thing, a swively thing, another smaller play structure with 3 slides and rope ladder and a myriad of small activities tucked in here and there under the play structures. The park has a wood chip protective covering on the ground and a heavy duty plastic barrier around it. There are 2 picnic tables, several benches, a couple trash cans, a basketball court, and a little free library on the periphery.

In order to best gauge the effectiveness of this playground I asked several experts to test out the playground equipment and give their honest feedback. They diligently checked out each slide and ranked them. There was a clear winner in the highest blue tube slide and all experts agreed it was the best one. The lower blue tube slide was ranked lowest as there is a bump in the middle that detracted from the sliding experience. One reviewer stated " Yeah that slide has a bump in the turn and it makes you go oooof every time."

The swings were the next in line for review. As none of the experts on hand were small enough for the toddler swings they focused primarily on the 4 regular sized swings. 2 out of 3 experts chose the same centrally located swing, while the 3rd expert stated "They're all the same. It would be a lot better if the swings were at different heights for different sized kids or if they got more swings." If memory serves the former playground did have more swings of different heights, but that was before this expert was born.

The tire swings were also very popular, but more labor intensive as one child needed to push or an adult needed to be harangued into participating. The tire swings were both tested with both a child and adult pushing. It was determined that the more centrally located tire swing was the better of the two for no apparent reason. It was also concluded that it was much preferred if certain adults pushed the swing as one expert stated, "Dad pushes it higher and spins it more. No offense." Some offense was taken.

Offending Expert on Tire Swing

When it came to the other play structures the experts polled all favored the zip-line. At present the zip-line hand-hold tends to naturally rest in the middle of the line unreachable by children without the assistance of an adult or creative problem solving. 2 of the experts chose to retrieve the hand-hold by one getting on the shoulders of the other. It was a risky maneuver, but very successful. Later one expert climbed out to retrieve the hand-hold with a hand over hand method and then swung the hand-hold back to a waiting partner. Both methods were excellent solutions, but for shorter children or children playing solo neither method would have worked effectively.

The main drawback of the new setup is that children cannot hide from their parents in order to avoid going home. Due to the wide spacing of the playground elements children can be seen at all times from almost any vantage point unless they've decided to hole up in the tunnel slides. This is great for the parents and overall safety, but not ideal for for games of tag, hide and seek, or delaying departure. There is also not much shade.

The playground experts consulted determined that the playground was acceptable and superior to the "small playground" on the other side of the school building.

© AndoverExclusive 2021

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