Chances are wherever you live in America or around the world your community holds annual events: starting with New Year’s Eve to a Thanksgiving Parade. Is Halloween a big event in your town? Do you ever travel to the nearest big city to see the July 4th Fire Works? Well, all of these events and many more our play opportunities just waiting to happen.

Back on March 15, 2009, when the newly formed play committee was meeting and brainstorming as we went around the oval table, Colleen DiPaul 82 years young at the time wished there would be a inter-generational picnic and play event. So over the next couple of weeks we took a look at the events already going on in our town, Takoma Park, Maryland and it hit me, how about when people gather to watch the July 4th Parade? So many of us got together to watch the July 4, 2009 Parade and we invited people to join us for our 1st Picnic, Play and Parade Watch event. We had a blast getting to know people before the parade, watching the parade; while we enjoyed the grilled hot dogs, watermelon, flag cake and many yummy dishes. When the parade ended several of us went in my backyard to play kick-the-can. When was the last time you played kick-the-can?

On Sunday, April 19 2015 we joined Takoma Park’s Earth Day event. We brought the fixings for Mud Pie Making. During this time people of all ages came by and made mud pies. While a daughter was making her mud pie her Father thanked me for our recent Guide to Takoma Park Playgrounds that was mailed to every resident in Takoma Park, Maryland. This document was created by Dean Paris dean@paris-design.com. The Father told me the family plans to walk to all fourteen-play spaces and play at everyone one.

This past May a handful of us helped provide a Play Space at the Safe Kids to School: Fun Run. We brought along jump ropes, hula-hoops, sidewalk chalk and Giant Connect Four. Kids and adults joined in on the fun and twirled the jump ropes, jumped in to jump and show their skills. Several adults and kids hula-hooped in all different ways and speeds. It was such a success we are planning on joining this event again in 2016.

We had a Spontaneous Play event on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, because that is when WTOP editor, Rachal Nania could join us. See the link to the article she shared online below.

http://wtop.com/lifestyle/2015/05/promoting-play-the-importance-of-a-spo...

On July 24, 2015, over 70 people joined me at my backyard for a NBC4 Playful Cookout with Weatherman, Doug Kammerer. We had so much fun playing. See six short play segments below.

Play BBQ Introduction

Play BBQ Hula-hoop

Play BBQ T-Ball

Play BBQ Tennis

Play BBQ Food

Play BBQ Closing

August 4, 2015, we joined National Night Out an event put on by Police Departments all over America. I highly recommend you offer to bring some play equipment; balls, bubbles and any other items you may have and invite people to play. Several children loved our Giant Connect Four, hopscotch mat and hula-hoops.

This year I decided to hold an event when children are Trick-or-treating, so I called this event Halloween Event: Play-a-Game, Win-a-Treat. Children of all ages walked up my walk and said, “Trick-or-treat,” I responded, “Welcome we are holding a play event, play a game and win a treat.” Almost everyone except one responded, “Ok what do I get to play?” I then responded several times over two and a half hours, “Climb the haystack up the tree, jump rope, hula-hoop, hopscotch, bob for apples and/or roast a marshmallow.” A friend of mine offered me over 400 strands of beads (New Orleans style). Boys and girls were delighted to receive the necklaces. Many children stayed and played several activities. Parents and kids shared how much they liked my event with positive comments and some parents even joined in on the playful activities. This event was such a hit I am planning on continuing this event.

Here are suggestions for promoting play at already organized events held in your community:

  • If an event is one that is near your home and you could add play easily by bringing out play equipment, so others can join in the play activities then I highly recommend you jump on this opportunity.
  • Clean out your garage, attic, ask family, friends, neighbors and others to donate play equipment they are no longer using, so you can bring out this equipment for play.
  • Ask others to help you promote play during this community event; maybe they have a badminton net they can set-up, if you already have a basketball hoop, or a children’s pool then make a poster and say, “You are invited to come play.”
  • Create fliers to share on bulletin boards, online on list serves and places of worship bulletins to announce you will be joining an event by adding playful activities.
  • Contact the organizer of the Fun Run, Parade Committee or other event and ask if you can add playful activities? I bet they will be thrilled and say “yes.”

This could make a great teen project that could earn teens community service hours. Believe me teens love to play.

Adding play to an already organized event is a win-win. I have witnessed this over and over and I highly recommend you consider taking on this playful challenge. You will personally feel good about providing playful activities for children and adults, you will help many others feel good, because playing feels good and you will be adding a positive element to your community. If I can help any of you feel free to contact me.

My nonprofit Let’s Play America wants to encourage you to play and help you plan playful events in your own community. Pull out the calendar, find the already organized events and select one where you can add play. You can do it, go play!

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

1 The Play Lady Tells Us How to Become Play-ers

2 How to Start a Play Committee in Your Community

3 How to Plan a Play Day in Your Community

4 Pushing Play

5 Why Close a Street to Play?

6 Join an Already Planned Community Event and Promote Play

7 Inter-generational Games Night

8 Community Service: Teens Make Great Play Advocates

9 Start a Play Club in Your School

10 The Benefits of Play Events in Your Community

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Watch one of the two TEDxTalks Pat gave on play.

Pat is the Co-founder of the nonprofit Let’s Play America.  Like us on Facebook Let’s Play America.

Invite The Play Lady to your community.

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