It’s a topic I suppose I’ll have to return to more than once: children in the city. Sometimes people directly say or imply that the city is no place for children. I often hear people suggest that “when the kids are grown” they will move to the city or that living in the city is great for young people with no children.
I’m not sure where it all comes from. Maybe the idea, which is a complete myth in our particular situation, that the city is a dangerous place. I do know some parents are concerned about schools and while many are happy with the downtown zoning for elementary schools, they are no so happy with the zoning for middle and high schools. I understand that sentiment.
The most recent comment that made me feel a need to respond wasn’t overheard. It was a sentence fragment buried inside an otherwise well done article in the Metropulse. The article was not about children at all, rather about west Knoxville Republicans and their recent implosion as they elected a vice chair. Deep inside the article, Betty Bean, referring to Beth Waters, calls her a “long time community activist who was the force behind Fort Kid, the popular playground once located near the Knoxville Museum of Art.”
I intend no criticism of Ms. Bean for making a simple mistake. I’m sure I make them everyday in this blog. Still, I think it’s worth mentioning that Fort Kid remains in the same location and, I believe, has been improved in recent months. It’s a massive structure with rocks spread beneath the wooden bridges, ladders and overhead tunnels. It sits on the hillside overlooking the Knoxville Museum of Art, just below a picturesque row of Victorian homes. It would be a pretty sweet personal playground for any child growing up in one of those homes.
I’d had these photographs of Urban Girl sitting around for a couple of months and I wasn’t sure whether I would use them for the blog, but the occasion seemed to require it. She had a blast climbing, crawling, dangling and investigating the rocks, just like her mother on that same playground nearly twenty-five years ago. The Sunsphere loomed in the background and she had the area to herself most of the time we were there. Eventually a young boy joined her.
They both had a great time and now I’m not sure which downtown playground is her favorite. She likes the bright, modern affair down the hill on the World’s Fair Park, but I think she may prefer the old school charm of Fort Kid. It may be a little better for the younger children as there are several pieces of equipment that are really for the older ones.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are other great child-centered events throughout the year in the city. Some are once a year, such as the annual Chalk Walk the first weekend in April. Others are more often, such as storytime at the downtown Lawson-McGhee Library which is offered for all ages of children several times throughout the week. Union Avenue Books also features storytime with Ms. Caryn at 11:00 AM alternating Saturdays, including this Saturday, March 2. Of course, there is also the great children’s music program, Kidstuff, broadcast from WDVX each Saturday morning and in front of a live audience the last Saturday of each month.
So bring the children to the city and join in all the fun. See Mary Poppins next week at the Tennessee Theatre, catch storytime or head over just the other side of the Knoxville Museum of Art. You’ll find a great playground there and when the weather is a little warmer, you might find Urban Girl ready to run amok.