December 04, 2008

How To Plan a Play Day on A Budget of Zero

By Nancy Serrand
Code Enforcement Officer/Chairperson, Playful City USA Committee
City of Canton, Ga.

Planning a Play Day is complex enough WITH a budget, but how do you do it without one?

The first hurdle is timing. If you piggyback on another event where your audience will already be on location, you're good to go. We plan our Annual Play Day immediately following the city's Holiday Parade. The parade begins at 1:00 p.m. and usually ends around 2:30. The park is located within walking distance and conveniently visible by patrons leaving the parade. In trying to recruit business participation, we invite them to join the parade and carry signs that say, "Follow us to Family Fun at Heritage Park from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m." This gives families who are already out for the day with their children something to do with the remainder of the day.

Our invitation to businesses includes an opportunity for them to get free exposure. The fee for participation in our Play Day is providing a game, activity or demonstration in exchange for space. They can set up a booth or table with signs and/or displays promoting their business, but they must provide all the materials and volunteers for their activity. There are no opportunities for the sale of any product or service. As a parent, it is frustrating to go to an event to be hawked by your children asking you to buy trinkets, food and other items, especially as in our situation, with the holidays being so near.

We offer an opportunity to a local sign company to provide banners, inviting them, of course, to place their logo and/or slogan as large as they would like in exchange. Every business that participates gets their logo on the banners and posters. This year we were able to get a screen printer to offer up sweatshirts for the volunteers, which again will include the logos of all our sponsors.

The local supermarkets and Wal-Mart supply us with donations of gift cards for purchases in their stores or water, hot cocoa, cookies, balloons and other goodies for us to give out. This makes our day a completely free day to visitors, which is very enticing to parents.

This year we have 26 sponsors providing everything from a monkey bridge, inflatables, baskeball, ring toss, bean bag toss, tug of war, hula hoops, limbo, potato sack races, Santa's workshop, two Tae Kwon Do demonstrations, a DJ, sweatshirts, banners, ATV/dirtbike safety, skateboard demonstration, tricycle races, a hay ride and raffle prizes. Last year we had over 500 people. This year we hope to have more.

We thank the City of Canton, Wal-Mart, Mauldin's Auto Body, Home Depot, Publix, McFarland's, Fast Signs, My Artistic Apparel, Buffalo's, Outback Steakhouse, Staples, Beef O'Brady's, Cycle Nation, Cloud Supply, Ryan's Family Steak House, Williamson Bros. BBQ, YMCA, Progressive Skate Park, BSA Troop 241, Ray's Music Machine, Free Flite Bicycles, Fratelli's, Quill Corporation, Yong In Martial Arts, Higgins Party Rental, Sequoyah HS GCSA Club, Waleska Moms of Preschoolers and Holly Springs Tae Kwon Do. Without your participation and support, Canton's Playful City USA Committee's Annual Play Day would not be the success that it is.

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