From “Touch a Truck” to Four Square at the 3rd Annual Play Day

Jim "The Wizzard of Wood" Caldrer sculpts a sweet potato under the watchful eye of Ayla Hill.Jim "The Wizzard of Wood" Caldrer sculpts a sweet potato under the watchful eye of Ayla Hill.

Clambering into the cab of a 544J front loader, 8-year old Naomi Alfoso tested the horn, twice for good measure. Twenty feet below, her family, first-time participants at Takoma Park’s annual Play Day, waited patiently for their daughter’s turn to end. A few feet away, fellow “Touch a Truck” fans explored mulch movers and snow plows.

“I think I’m having more fun than they are,” said heavy vehicle operator Herb Temony, of participants at Takoma Park’s third annual Play Day. But the evidence suggested otherwise: Takoma Middle School’s grounds were over-run with kids engaged in all manner of play, from sculpting sweet potatoes to Simon Says.

Chief organizer Pat Rambugh (aka The Play Lady) was worried when she discovered the power was out at the middle school, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “Our super energetic Zumba instructor Kim Clark got a friend to blast her car stereo and she led dance moves in the parking lot. It drew 50 people and they were having a ball.”

Squeezing the Play Day into a busy schedule that included African dance lessons and a birthday party was Kensington resident Zuri Alexander, who loved the Zumba lesson.  Other players were attracted to vintage games like cornhole or Four square, or the perennially popular kid activity, making mud pies.

6-year old Anina Gonzales-Sol decorated her pie with macaroni and dandelions, glancing shyly at fellow artists. “Sometimes I make real pies with my grandmother, or for holidays, and sometimes I just practice with play dough,” said Anina.

At least one adult who attended the Play Day as a chaperone ended up playing games himself. Silver Spring resident Antoni Soto learned how to play “Crokinole” – which looks something like the sport of curling, in miniature, played on a round wooden disk instead of ice.

“I don’t know where my kids are, “ laughed Antoni Soto as he watched his new adult playmates flick checker-like pieces across the board. “I guess they’re with my wife.”

Jim Calder, a nationally-known sculptor with close ties to Takoma Park also demonstrated his more playful side at the event. Although much of his work has been commissioned by adults (including sculture at the corner of Holly and Tulip in Takoma Park), Calder enjoys sharing his hobby with kids . He brought his new book, “So You thought You Couldn’t Cut It: A Beginner’s Guide to Woodcarving” to the Festival, and demonstrated his skills by carving sweet potatotes.

“It gives you a chance to play with your food !” said Jim with a laugh.

The giant Play Day ended with a spirited game of Simon Says, led by State Senator Jamie Raskin.

Photo by A J Spicer


About the Author

Sandy Moore, the Kids' Voice columnist, writes for young readers and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Sandy is also a past contributor to Washington Parent magazine, a Board member of Lumina Studio Theatre, and resident of Silver Spring.