Deutschland, you’ve outdone yourself.
WHEN I WAS A KID, I used to play at McManus Park in Bettendorf. Better known on the street as the “Rocket Park” because it featured a giant upright metal rocket that you could climb to the top, level by level. Each level an awkward series of rusty metal bars, ladders, stairs and hatches. Everything was hard, sharp, and the risk of falling, bumping, scraping was high – it was hard to get to the top unscathed. 20 or so feet below was a sand play area, the only problem being that the sand had either all been relocated to the rocket (where it got kicked in your eyes as you climbed) or had been blown away years ago, and all that remained was the bedrock below. Other play things like slides and merry-go-rounds were old, metal, rusty, and wicked fast. Those were the good ol’ days.
A few years ago we took our kids back to that park of my childhood to play and found it had been replaced with this. The three story rocket was gone, everything was made of some sort of soft composite. Even the sand had been replaced with some recycled tire material. It was clean, organized and super safe.
In otherwords, it sucked.
Enter the city parks in Germany, in this case the Luisenpark in Mannheim. First, there’s the play equipment. There are zip lines for kids, a tire swing contraption where the object is to actually collide with your partner, trampolines, and all manner of whip-lashing contraptions for kids:
Then there’s the wildlife, including a reptile zoo, aquarium, birds in cages as well as a few roaming free:
There’s a Chinese garden replete with Koi pond:
A little adventure course with rope bridges and a chance to get your feet wet:
And this. A playset made of real stone and metal, with a slide that will rip the skin off your back. Ladders and fireman’s poles, big brick blocks and a million kids running wild. The kind of place that gives you a cold sweat watching your kids play.
The way kids were meant to play.
And not a single broken bone.