Even though it was cold and snowy outside, Leslie Kirscht and her children decided to go to the playground for some fun Tuesday morning.
However, they didn't have to clear snow off slides and shovel paths to monkey bars. All they had to do was go to Lakes Area Recreation in the Douglas County Services Center in Alexandria.
The new indoor playground, which has been named Shenanigans, is located in the auxiliary gym, which is to the north of the main gym. The playground was officially opened to the public Tuesday morning after a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"I love it," Kirscht said after trying out one of the slides with her children. "This is so good this time of the year. They were so excited to go to the inside park today."
In the first 40 minutes Shenanigans was open, about 15 children and their parents had already explored the playground's mazes, slides, tunnels, bridges and other obstacles.
"The feedback we have gotten so far has been really positive," said Kelly Wencl, LAR recreation supervisor. "People could not be more excited about it."
Wencl said that LAR has been exploring the project for about two years, but it was just approved by the LAR board in December. The $160,000 project was completed about a week ago and is now open to the public.
Ashley Rambow, who moved to the area from Atlanta, also tried out the playground with her 3-year-old son on Tuesday. She predicts they will use the facility a lot.
"It's fantastic to see something like this, especially in this climate," she added.
Wencl explained that the playground was also opened for a while last Saturday to see how things went and to give the LAR staff some training time. Approximately 150 people used the facility that day, including her own kids.
"Everyone was really impressed," she said.
In a recent community needs assessment survey, the 1,690 people who responded listed an indoor playground as one of their top five choices.
The new playground takes up a large portion of the old gym, which used to be the Central School gymnasium. At one time it was used for the gymnastics program, but in recent times it was sitting empty most of the time.
The playground also includes three enclosed areas around the edges that can be rented for birthdays or other parties. Access to the playground is included in the rental fee.
A toddler area that is separate from the rest of the playground makes it easy for parents to keep young children playing in one area.
The playground is a socks-only area, Wencl said, and no food or drink are allowed, with the exception of water bottles outside the playground structure. People can use one side of the gym's old bleachers for seating and are allowed to bring snacks in that area.
Cost is $6 per child, with children under 12 months old free. Children receive a wristband that gives them access to the playground for the entire day. They must be supervised by an adult at all times.
Winter hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer hours are planned to be Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For for information, call Lakes Area Recreation at (320) 762-2868, or visit www.lakesarearecreation.com.