How to Plan a Play Day in Your Community

To keep young, plan to keep playing

Posted Dec 23, 2015

*Author is Pat Rumbaugh, the Play Lady

Why sponsor a play day? George Bernard Shaw told us, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Your community will benefit greatly from the organization of this Play Day; your core group will get to know each other and become friends for life, people of all ages, variety of socio-economic backgrounds will come together who have never been together before and most of all ALL of you will have fun playing.

Once you have gathered your core group of volunteers (prior post) and decided to hold a Play Day in your community then there are three important aspects you must nail down:

PLACE: Where are you going to hold the event?

  • Are there bathroom facilities available?
  • Is the site handicapped accessible?

You want everyone to be able to attend your Play Day.

TIMING: When are you going to host it?

  • Is the date and time you have chosen a good time for most people attending your event?
  • Consult a calendar that has a list of the events in your community to make sure you are not competing with another event that will keep people away from your event.

BACK-UP PLAN: If it rains do you have a back-up plan?

  • If you have decided to hold this Play Day at a park and/or playground is there an inside facility there or nearby that could be used in case of bad weather?

After these plans are set, there are a few more aspects to consider:

ACTIVITIES.  Once you know your physical location well, hint, go visit it, walk around and brainstorm, what can we play here?

  • What physical equipment is available at this location? Is there a playground? How about a field or parking lot you can use for playing? Is there a stage? Can you set-up a stage at this site? What is available inside?
  • Next, begin making a list of fun playful activities you would like to have at this Play Day. See the list below of activities we had at our 1st Play Day in 2009:
    • Bubbles, corn-hole, dress-up and parade to follow, face painting, four square, hopscotch, hula-hooping, juggling, jumping rope, playing at the playground, playing with homemade play dough, mini-tennis, Legos, Turkish Dancing was performed, and State Senator Jaime Raskin started a tradition by ending Play Day by playing Simon Says.

LENGTH. Based on your planned activities, how long should it last?

  • Our 1st Play Day was two hours long.


Within 100 yards or our first play day, the Public Works Department was holding an event called, Touch-A-Truck. This fun event is super exciting to young children. They get to climb up on trucks, pretend they are driving and beep the horns. Their event was from 10 am to noon and our event was from 11 am to 1 pm. Since we both drew people of all ages we both helped attract more people then normally expected. We ended up having people in age range from babies to early eighties. We counted approximately 200 people who attended our 1st Play Day.

These days, our Recreation Department Co-sponsors our Play Days. It is a huge help to us. We now have several performances by bands, story tellers, Zumba and Aerobic Instructors, several organizations help us; Girl Scouts, Teams, a USTA Tennis Training Center, Public Works brings several Trucks for Touch-A-Truck to our September Play Day, many businesses are sponsors by giving us donations or helping in some way. We have over 100 volunteers; many are teens who receive community service. Adults of all ages help us; Box Lady, Dress-up Lady, Face Painting Lady, Mud Pie Lady and many men help us from our fun loving Computer Guy, our talented photographer, several City Council members come and play, some juggle and others lead games to play.

PLANNING TIME: We spent six months planning our 1st Play Day. I recommend you have at least six months to plan your first Play Day. Besides volunteers in your community, invite Businesses Folks, Public Officials, Recreation Department and others to join you in the planning of Play Day. Our Mayor was supportive from the get-go, our Director of Recreation was welcoming and helpful, several of our City Council members and their families attended our 1st Play Day and many of the businesses displayed our flier and helped us promote our 1st Play Day.

In addition, we also sold our brand new T-shirts that were designed by a resident in our Community. The logo has remained the same and you can see it on our website

On our website there is a listing of Upcoming Events and Past Events,  including our first play day.  Since 2009 we have held 7 Play Days the 4th Saturday of September (the site moved to our Takoma Park Middle School for more space outdoors and indoors), 5 Mid-Winter Play Days in February at our Community Center since 2011, and 2 Adult Play Days since 2014 held at our VFW.

All of you are invited to our 6th Annual Mid-Winter Play Day, Sunday, February 14, 2016, at our Community Center.


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 in the Community

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


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.

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