Sunday, August 26, 2012

Reese's Retreat at Brookside Park

Sunday, August 26, 2012
My Cost: FREE!

360 N Arroyo Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91103

My little boy is six months old today! He's so close to crawling (pushes himself up into a full push-up already!) and he is just a joy! A smiling, laughing, sweet, curious, strong, caring boy who, from the moment he was born, has never done anything to over-stress his mommy! My handsome man, Alexander, I love you!

Okay, I just had to brag about that for a moment. Now, on to the Kidscapade!

Today the kids have so much energy. I don't know if they're just excited that daddy is back, or if it's because the weather is cooler, or what, but they are Energizer bunnies today! They keep going, and going, and going... There haven't been any real naps today because they just aren't drowsy! So when they have more energy than I can handle, I think playground!

Reese's Retreat

I decided today would be a perfect opportunity to try the "hidden gem" I had read about on Yelp! when I was doing some research for my Kidspace Museum post (see August 7th). That hidden gem is the fully accessible playground known as Reese's Retreat. It's a pirate-themed playground situated directly behind the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. (It's so close you could possibly get splashed by a giant cannonball off the diving platform... maybe.)

There are plenty of shady trees to park a stroller or bike under. The surface under the play structure is that cushy rubber (soft enough for a falling child, but solid enough for a wheelchair,) and it is blue for water, with pictures of sea creatures, (mostly sharks.) The structure itself is designed as a pirate ship, complete with sails, a ship's wheel, cannons, and even a very low-to-the-ground "plank" for walking.

Notice the "plank" under one of the "cannons."

I was excited to find the "splash pad" area I had read about, but it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I was thinking of sprinklers squirting out of the sidewalk, but instead it operates more like a drinking fountain. There are two cement structures, one is a giant "treasure chest" and the other is a "shipwreck," and each has a big round metal button to turn on the water. Bigger kids can manage this themselves, but for smaller kids an adult would probably need to push it. And the "treasure chest" fountain wasn't working, today at least.

The two water fountain structures are next to each other and separated from the play structure by a sidewalk. The ground around them is covered in sand. When we first got there a group of older kids (maybe 6- to 8-years old,) had managed to create a pretty big puddle in the sand and were jumping off the "shipwreck" into the puddle. Fairly messy (wet sand everywhere,) and possibly dangerous, but they were all having fun!

This is the "shipwreck" fountain. You can see the button for turning on the water to the right. The little boy in blue is getting ready to jump into the puddle. In the background is the Aquatic Center, and a dragon for climbing!

Another picture of the dragon.

There was also a nice set of swings - two bucket swings for toddlers, 4 regular swings, and two adaptive swing seats for kids that need different accessibility.

Omar is pushing Vivi in one of the bucket seats!
Approaching the park the water play area is first, to the right of that is a shaded picnic area
and then the swing set, and in the background is the pirate-themed play structure.

Brookside Park

I was tempted to wander away from the playground a bit, especially since Omar was taking care of Vivi and I was just carrying around my little 6-month old man. (It's so nice whenever I have another adult around!) I was curious about a vine-covered, dome-shaped truss over an outdoor stage. To get to it I passed a ton of picnic tables behind the Rose Bowl Tennis courts.

This is a great spot for a picnic party! There was a birthday party going on to my right,
but I didn't want to include them in the picture without consent!

Turning around from the picnic tables 180 degrees you can see the bathroom facility,
with the Aquatic Center and playground in the background.
The vine-shaded steps that lead up to the stage have the feeling of going through an enchanted portal! 

The audience benches, and the shaded stage.

Laying on stage with Alex on my stomach, looking up!
I can't say if the stage is ever used for anything. I'd probably have to put in a call to the Pasadena Parks office. But two little boys did put on a cute show for their parents!

A little east of the stage was an old area for playing horseshoes, and next to that some broken stone terraces that appear to have once had fountains. I didn't get pictures of these interesting areas, because my camera battery died, sadly. But the history of the park does go back to the 1920's (the Rose Bowl was completed in 1922.) And I've not turned up any good sources online about the park's history, but the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy does have a good description of the modern park amenities on their website.

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