READERS' PICK: Himmel Park actually has three playgrounds. On the west side, near the pool, is the tiny tots structure. It has the beginners' slides and two harness swings perfect for the little adrenaline junkies. Nearby are more swings for the bigger kids and the "Giganto Slide of Death." Just climbing the ladder gives us a nosebleed, and the luge-speed descent puts fear into the hearts of parents. Both have lots of sand and picnic areas nearby. On the northeast side is the newer-style climbing structure with several platform levels, three slides and more swings. Also it's here that you'll find everyone's favorite outdoor activity: tic-tac-toe! For most kids a public playground is where they first learn how to take turns, what a slide burn is, and why you shouldn't swing too high with a tummy full of eegees.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Reid Park Playground, Broadway Boulevard and Country Club Road. When families gather for get-togethers at Reid Park, you're sure to hear loud music, smell the enticing smoke of some kinda carcass searing on the grill, and hear the sweet words out of the children's mouths, "We're going to the playground!" It's then interesting to see which adult gets/has to go with the kids while the others mill around and talk of business/sports/relationships or any other number of really boring topics. Do not feel sorry for the adult who accompanies the kids to the playground. If he's like us, he doesn't want to talk about business/sports/ relationships, he probably brought reading material along just for such a possibility, and/or he likes (gasp!) being with the kids. And who wouldn't want to be in such a happy place? Great swings, slides, sand, monkey bars--it's all there, the stuff of kiddie dreams and lifelong happy memories. All parks need a place like this, a place where kids can be kids. 'Cause if you don't have places like this or if you don't let the kids play at places like this, they'll grow up to think that parks are places where you go, fully armed, to test the constitutionality of local ordinances. And who wants that?