Even before artist Hugh Macmillian finished painting playground designs around the sidewalks at Knightdale Station Park, the kids were already flocking to them.
In fact, his designs were so popular, Macmillian had to reapply the base layer of paint for a painted hopscotch caterpillar because kids had used it so much, said Tina Cheek, the town's parks and recreation director.
The pieces are all ready to play on now. Macmillan wrapped up his work last week. And, during this week's sunny weather, kids were hopping, skipping and jumping among the colorful designs.
"This brings the children out from the center of activity," said Cheek of the park's playground, which has a farm and train theme. "It expands our area of active play."
Last year, Knightdale was one of 41 communities across the state to win a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association. The grant pays for the PlayPrints, which are ground markings featuring colorful shapes and games that are painted on existing pavement. The designs are intended to encourage physical activity, according to a press release.
The designs are on the sidewalks next to the playground, which feature a large play barn, two-story silo, multiple slides, a concrete cow, working railroad crossing and more, including a variety of swings.
Town leaders intended the park to be a destination when it opened in September 2013, and that's exactly what it's become. Officials now are making plans to add more parking to the busy space, which also hosts the town's events and farmers' market. (The park will host an egg hunt and spring event on Saturday, March 19).
The park has about a dozen PlayPrints designs. There are two spots for hopscotch - one featuring a caterpillar and another with a sunflower design. Agility ladders encourage kids to jump with one foot, for instance, or with their feet apart. Kids are invited to tiptoe along a green snake or march along a line of purple ants.
The park has six entrances, which are now each marked with a different shape. Parents can encourage their kids to "run to the circle," for instance. I'm pretty sure my kids would devise a game of tag where those shapes are the "safe" spots.
The designs are expected to last about three years before it's time to repaint. The artist used a special concrete stain to ensure they'd hold up to frequent play. Cheek hopes that scout groups might be able to help the town clean them up from time to time. (You can't power wash them). She'd love for a high school's graphic arts class to help repaint them in a few years once they fade.
Knightdale Station has been among my favorite parks in the Triangle since it opened. This just adds to all of the fun that's already out there!
Knightdale Station is at 810 N. First Ave., Knightdale. Bathrooms are on site.