It may seem like a long leap from beer (yesterday’s blog post) to a children’s party, but that’s what downtown was like last Saturday night. One of the many misconceptions of downtown is the idea it’s a hangout for college kids, hipsters and empty nesters, but not so much for children or families which include them.
Obviously, anyone reading my blog for very long has seen that this simply isn’t the case. From Kidstuff at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center to the Children’s Festival of Reading, story time at the public library and Union Avenue Books, the Tennessee History Fair, major Fireworks twice each year, the lighting of the Christmas Tree, the Fantasy of Trees to the many other festivals and events for children or incorporating a children’s component, there’s more for a child to do downtown than they could possibly squeeze in around nap time.
Regular readers have become accustomed to seeing Urban Girl, who is growing up in and around the city, eating yogurt at Orange Leaf, ice at Rita’s or gelato at Coolato Gelato. You’ve seen her playing at Fort Kid and the World’s Fair Playground, playing in the fountains or just running amok on Market Square. Even when her mother was a child in the 1980’s children’s events on the “Market Square Mall” in front of Watson’s sometimes found her in the city for a little face painting action.
So, while some grownups were drinking beer (or wine) at Beers and Steers last Friday night, large numbers of families had their children at what is billed as Knoxville’s Largest Kid’s Party hosted by Premier Athletics. It was the second annual event and hundreds of children ran about the square doing various activities.
I really liked the health emphasis, such as the grapes and other healthy snacks I saw at the south end of the event. A strong emphasis was placed on getting the children to be active with such options as climbing over obstacles, hop-scotch and running in and through the fountain (even though this is always there, it fit seamlessly into the event.
On the negative side for health, however, Krispy Creme gave away free donuts and Kroger cooked hot dogs. It surprised me a little because it certainly mixed the message a bit. On the other hand, if I don’t think about what I’m eating, which is getting harder for me these days, an occasional, good hot dog cooked on an open grill and a hot Krispy Creme donut is sometimes a nice thing, so I guess everything in moderation. Still, how could I not wonder about GMOs?
A DJ provided music at the north end on the Market Square Stage. Balloon artists and face painters plied their trades. Children could engage in various contests to win prizes or simply spin a wheel to determine a prize. Informational booths were set up for the parents and tumbling and other demonstrations underscored the fitness and activity theme. A very cool little people train pulled children up and down Wall Avenue (look closely and I think you’ll spot one young man who wants off the train!).
A really positive event with a family-friendly price ($5) is a good thing to find. Yes, there was some mixed-messages, but really, how many families ate microwaved hotdogs at home while watching television all night? At least it’s better than that. Yes, Premier wants you to use their services, but their services get children moving and that’s a good thing.
If you aren’t used to bringing your children downtown, keep an eye out for the wonderful events such as this one that pop up downtown. Or take it from Urban Girl who insists that the highest form of entertainment to be had in the city is to get up on the Bill Lyon’s Stage at Market Square, run in circles and scream while listening for the sound of the echo. Now that’s high caliber fun! Whatever you do, don’t be fooled by anyone saying downtown is no place for kids. It’s a great place for everyone in the family, especially the children.