There’s always something going on in and around downtown for adults. Bars, rooftops, rooftop bars, restaurants, concerts and a range of other cultural events abound in every direction. For teens through retirees, there is plenty to love.
But what about the children? If we want the city we love to prosper and continue to be loved in the future, it’s important to have the little ones begin their relationship with the city early. Thankfully, that is very easy. Some of our little one’s favorites include the Knoxville Museum of Art and Fort Kid which make a nice back-and-forth afternoon. We did this last week, playing on the playground until water and cool air called and then exploring the museum until we’d cooled off, heading back to the playground and repeating.
They also love playing on the “colorful playground,” on the World’s Fair Park and running between that and the “big fountains” to cool off. They love running across the big lawn, dangling their feet in the pools of water near the amphitheatre and “going up into the round part” of the sunsphere.
Back in the heart of downtown, they enjoy the “little fountains,” dropping sticks or leaves in the water in Krutch park on one side of the bridge and seeing them emerge on the other side (sorry city workers who have to clean up after us). They enjoy the Tennessee History Theatre, the older one loves bowling and they both like dropping in to see glass being blown in the old city, grabbing a cookie and milk at Java and catching a trolley ride (which they see as a fun activity all its own) back to the condo.
Beyond those more common activities, the city’s Office of Special Events has introduced a new series for children each Tuesday. It’s called Kid A’ Riffic Fun on the Square and will happen July 16, 23 and 30 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Start them loving the square early. Activities are led by The Knoxville Arts and Fine Crafts Center, The Muse Knoxville, YMCA, Home Depot, Knoxville Fire Department, KAT (Knoxville Area Transit) and the Knoxville Ice Bears. Parking is all around: $5 at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum for $5 and ride the free Blue Line Trolley to Market Street, $1 an hour in the Market Square, Locust Street, Walnut Street and State Street garages, or free Blackstock Parking lot and the Jackson Avenue parking lot under James White Parkway.
Finding Waldo is also back for another run and this is a great activity for kids of all ages. I’ve seen a lot of teenagers and college-age young people having fun with it. For parents, it’s a great way to explore spots in the city you may not have noticed or to get some shopping done as you walk around with the kids having fun at each stop. It’s also a very sneaky way to get kids to be active and to stop staring at a screen for a little while.
The starting point is at Union Avenue Books (or really any of the participating spots) and you’ll find the clever fellow hiding at spots all around downtown. You can find a complete list of the three dozen locations here. The search doesn’t have to be done all at once and it can be repeated because the little guy moves around daily. Find him, get a stamp, get at least twenty stamps and your child is entered to win a deluxe set of Waldo Books (register at Union Ave. Books). The contest runs through July 31.
This particular week also happens to be the monthly live broadcast of Sean McCullogh’s excellent Kidstuff in the Visitor Center on the WDVX stage. The show runs from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM and, this week, features the music of David Bivens. It’s always fun, interactive and offers a very intelligent and respectful engagement of children. They may accidentally learn a Woody Guthrie song or learn fun facts about a place in the world, an idea or a little history. And it’s painless!
There is so much fun for kids to be found in and around the city, whether it is in the formal activities offered at every turn or some you make up of your own: Who can tell the best story about each sculpture in Krutch Park. Who can find the most history wraps. Can we match the history wrap to an artist in the Knoxville Museum of Art.
Or maybe just drop leaves in the stream in Krutch Park. In any case get out in the city you love and teach the little ones to cherish it, as well.