Big-Kid Playtime Party in the Park

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On Oct. 27, my good friend Teresa Flores and I co-hosted Big-Kid Playtime Party in the Park, a flash mob event at Cary Park in east-central Fresno. We encouraged participants to re-enact the childhood playtime of their youth in an experiment to see what would happen when we gave “adults” a chance to escape their “adult lives” by making time to be a kid. Activities included tossing around a frisbee and a nerf football, scaling playground equipment, competing in freeze-tag and ultimate frisbee, and running around a lot in general. Counting me and Teresa, eleven people dressed in big-kid clothes came out to play for an hour on a sunny Thursday afternoon for some loosely choreographed playtime.

The playtime flash mob was originally an idea for my Photo 17 black-and-white film class at Fresno City College, in response to an action photography assignment. But I quickly realized that the action during the Big-Kid Playtime Party in the Park was actually way too fast for me to document while also taking accurate exposure notes, framing shots for good lighting, and semi-directing all at the same time. So I ditched the film idea, grabbed my digital camera instead, and made photographs (mostly on shutter-priority settings) for the blog. Teresa, who is one of my favorite mixed-media artists, also shot video of the playtime party for a future post on her blog. She’ll finish her video soon.

While editing my photos for the slideshow, I noticed something: Participants had such huge smiles on their faces during playtime! The best thing I discovered was that people just need a little nudge to remind them how much fun it is to get outside and play. It was a terrific, endearing surprise, and I heard from more than one participant that another Big-Kid Playtime Party in the Park needed to happen in the future.

Late in the designated playtime, a chaotic and amoeba-like contest of ultimate frisbee lingered as the sun went down. I had finished shooting my two rolls of black-and-white film and I had taken more than 150 digital shots. Teresa had finished shooting video footage. She and I stood to the side and watched everyone continue to scramble around in the grass long after we, as directors, had stepped aside. The big kids forgot why they were there, lost in laughter, enjoying their game.

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