play day

Truck-N-Play Day


As a child, do you remember the fascination felt upon seeing a bulldozer at work? A fire truck zoom by with it’s lights on and sirens blaring? A tractor pulling crops? Trucks and other vehicles sparked hours of play for children across the country. On April 6th, 2013, the Playful City USA community of Safety Harbor, Florida will host the first annual Truck-N-Play Play Day.  

A play day inspired by trucks and the fun they bring, almost 2,000 children and community members are expected to attend. Truck-N-Play Day was inspired by Safety Harbor’s successful city tradition of Touch A Truck Day, where children could  interact with a number of interesting vehicles. Safety Harbor wanted to take a successful, well attended, and sought after event and combine it with a brand new Play Day.  By combining events, Safety Harbor will  reach a larger  crowd to spread the importance of Play and celebration their Playful City USA recognition.


About the Event: The Truck-N-Play Day will feature different Play Zones for children to enjoy. Zones include a jump rope station, bubbles, shoe golf, face painting, arts and crafts, and hopscotch. To go with the theme of the day, there will be a construction Play Zone and a Sand Pit to encourage use of the trucks. The event will help build the imagination of children in the community, promote social interaction, and physical development.

Julie Inman, Recreation Facility Manager of Safety Harbor, hopes that the day forms Family memories, increases education found from play, creates new traditions started for families, and new partnerships for the community that make play important.   The event will allow “families to get a chance to try new activities together many may become involved in many of our community organizations and activities because they were given a chance to try it out.  It allows our whole community to become a kid again, to let go and just play. We are most excited about families spending time together, having Fun and getting a chance to PLAY together!”

Community Involvement: Truck-N-Play Play Day is involving a wide number of organizations from across the community. The play day coordinator formed a play taskforce to plan the event. The taskforce recruited volunteers and sponsors for the different areas of the event. Volunteers are bringing vehicles, running play zones, and donating to ensure the event is a success. The local Boy Scout troop is running a “Raingutter Regatta,” which will allow kids to make boats out of recycled material and race them. By involving members of the community and different organizations to be involved, the community gains a sense of ownership for the event and the parks.

KaBOOM! Impact: Julie Inman believes that support from Playful City USA “assists in great ways.  Knowing that we have organizations preserving play for our future generations is both reassuring and greatly appreciated.”

Spreading the News: Safety Harbor is utilizing online sources such as the city website, social media (Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube), and Patch (the local online news site). In addition, the city issued press releases, placed banners in the parks, on Main Street and on light poles. Citizens can read about the event in REAL Magazine (a direct mailing to all residents).  By combining different methods of marketing, more citizens will be likely to hear about the event, thus increasing levels of attendance.

We can’t wait to see pictures of this creative play day. If you would like to host a play day for your city, sign up for the Play Day Tool Kit provided by KaBOOM!


Promoting play in Winter Park


Since 2011, the Playful City USA community of Winter Park has been working to ensure that each child has a playground within a mile of their house. Winter Park is very close to reaching their goal. Because of the high level of community support for play and Playful City USA, the City of Winter Park holds school engagement days, customer appreciation day, clean ups, spruce-ups, and tree plantings in play areas across the city. Support for their parks is widespread. However, while having programming and events that promote play is important, making sure the public knows what your city offers is more important. In Winter Park, an extensive marketing plan is created for each large event hosted.

For example, Winter Park hosts two playdays per year. The playday includes a variety of activities such as playground games, painting, a sidewalk art contest, healthy living information tables, tumbling demonstrations, and a park beautification activity. To publicize the event, Winter Park posts flyers throughout the town and on the site. The playday is included in the City Manager’s article in the local Winter Park Observer Newspaper and the playday is announced at the City Commission Meeting. The playday is also included in the City Update (a city wide newspaper). Flyers are sent to elementary schools, local day cares and nurseries.

By establishing connections with local schools and businesses, the Parks & Recreations department can create a pipeline of information flow, getting news to citizens faster.  Offering children information tunes adults into the fun community events. For instance, during July, Natinoal Parks Month, a full calendar for the month is released to the public detailing information about a plethora of events. 

Winter Park uses their Playful City USA recognition as a driver for community action. Because of their Playful City USA recognition, Winter Park allocated more funding to improving and building new playspaces. Winter Park even offers a playground just for use by senior citizens! . The Mayor of Winter Park highlighted the recognition in his State of the City address saying that placing the spotlight on policy, playspaces, and playdays is always exciting.

Finally, Winter Park uses social media to share updates. Enjoy this video of their parks

The use of social media is a free and efficient way to share with your community upcoming events. Playful followers will love knowing what your city has to offer them. Engaging citizens through social media will increase event attendance and aware of programming your city produces to protect play. For more suggestions, be sure to “Like” Playful City USA on Facebook, follow @playfulcityusa on Twitter and Pin with us on Pinterest.


Play in the street


Moorhead, Minnesota, a Playful City USA community, is the home of the Healthy People Initiative (HPI). The organization focuses on making healthy changes to the community through childcare, schools, and most importantly, through play. HPI works to encourage healthy eating and the development of positive habits that children can use through their entire life.

To increase local awareness of parks, play programs, and the importance of play, HPI hosts a one of a kind play day called StreetsAlive! The city of Moorhead closes three miles of streets, banning automobiles from entering. Instead of cars, the streets become full of children, runners, bikers, skateboarders, inline skating and more. The theme of this year’s event was “Play 60 Minutes Every Day,” urging residents to make play a part of their everyday routine.

In addition to letting the residents play in the streets, the play day featured a number of adventure stations where residents could stop to participate in fun activities such as fitness classes, organized games, watching demonstrations, and enjoying delicious and healthy foods. Attendees of all ages enjoyed a community wide celebration. Capturing the spirit of the Playful City USA program, Moorhead shows the entire community that human powered fun is the best way to spend a day.

With over 10,000 residents and families participating, this year’s StreetsAlive was a great success. The program collaborates with local schools and organizations. By increasing collaboration, the StreetsAlive play day launched a community-wide recess campaign, opening even more opportunities to play for the children of Moorhead. Mini StreetsAlive events are now being hosted at local elementary schools to encourage year-round play opportunities for children and families.

Hosting a community play day is a great way to celebrate a community full. Not only will hosting a play day bring members from the community together in a unique way, a play day will build awareness for the importance of physical activity and play in everyday life.

Enjoy this video highlighting some of the activities offered during StreetsAlive! this August.

Moorhead is a great example of a Playful City USA community taking action to make play a priority.

If you would like your community to organize a play day, come to the KaBOOM! Play Day resource page for 50 different activity cards, helpful information, and more!


Waves of play


In the city featuring nature’s most famous waterpark, Niagara Falls, New York has been making major waves. Niagara Falls has been a recognized Playful City USA community since 2009. A diverse and growing community, play is at the center of the city’s revitalization plan. Niagara Falls embraces play in three effective ways.

  1. Community Education. To open access to more play spaces, Niagara Falls school district works with the City of Niagara Falls to ensure students have access to play and then learn about play in the classroom. By partnering together, the children of Niagara Falls have more time to play. With joint use agreements that open access to gyms, education programs surrounding play and nutrition, and providing recreational venues, the school and city are making major progress in creating opportunities for kids to play.
  2. Community Engagement. Niagara Falls took an active approach in building play. After becoming a Playful City USA community, Niagara Falls applied and received a $20,000 Let’s Play City Construction Grant. By starting a project on the Our Dream Playground website, generating community support and applying for the exclusive Playful City USA grant opportunities, the city was able to inspire a number of residents behind the vision of an amazing new play space for the children of the community. By using the KaBOOM! Community build model, Niagara Falls built the new Griffon Park playground and renovate other areas in the city. Over 220 community volunteers pitched in on the day of the playground build! The Fire Department, a local DJ, and the Buffalo Sabres mascot all got in on the building fun as well! From the local restaurants donating food to the raffle provided from local businesses, the entire community of Niagara Falls rallied for play.

    If you are interested in improving your city’s play spaces, apply for a Let’s Play Maintenance Grant!

  3. Community Celebration. What would the point of working so hard without taking time to enjoy the positive impacts of pushing for play? Each year, Niagara Falls hosts an annual Play Day. This year’s play day occurred in September, during the construction of a brand new playground. The Play Day featured organized games and a fishing derby while the adults worked on the playground. In order to give all children in Niagara Falls an opportunity to play, the city incorporated recreational activities like hockey, tennis, and organized sports. The city also planned affordable activities that could be continued after the play day such as bike riding, hopscotch, jumping rope and skating. The play day excited children and encouraged not just a day of healthy play, but a life of healthy play.

Niagara Falls has proved that action in one area can inspire and lead communities to take action in the future. Members of the same planning committee for the Griffon Park playground are now working to plan the next improvement projects for the city. The city is working to open a beautiful waterfront park that features the downtown area. With a community devoted to play, more children than ever before will have access to opportunities for play.


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