Sassafras: 14 pieces to look for when you go to Raleigh's biggest playground
Posted November 3, 2016
As I've written about many times, Sassafras All Children's Playground opens Saturday, Nov. 5. The $2.3 million project is seven years in the making and designed to be a place where children of all abilities can play side by side.
You'll find a variety of pieces that are built with kids with mobility or strength issues and other disorders in mind. They will allow all kids to be incorporated into play across the 3.5-acre playground - the largest in Raleigh.
The pieces are definitely spread out. If your children are young or if they could run off, this isn't a playground where you can hunker down on a bench and read a book. There are some fences around the perimeter - but not all of the way around.
But it's definitely a place families will spend hours at for years to come. Sassafras is at Laurel Hills Park, 3808 Edwards Mill Rd., Raleigh. The dedication is set for 10 a.m., Saturday.
Here are 14 things to look out for when you go:
Roller Table: It's a different take on the monkey bars. Instead of hanging from them, kids can lay on the table and pull themselves through.
Wide Decking: The massive main play structure features lots of wide decking so kids in wheelchairs and walkers can get in on the play.
Handicapped Accessible Picnic Tables: Instead of being stuck at the end of the table, people in wheelchairs can sit with everybody else in these specially designed picnic tables. The tables will sit on one side of the playground in three small picnic shelters, which also are designed to offer a quiet, cozy place for kids with sensory issues to take a break.
Equipment Accessed from Ground Level: This play piece and others are examples of play equipment that can be accessed from the ground level instead of climbing or rolling up onto above ground decking that's mostly found at traditional playgrounds. This allows for more creative play and opportunities for kids to build upper body strength - and makes it accessible to all.
Bright Colors: Notice the bright colors found at the entrances to the play pieces and on the slides. These are designed for kids who are visually impaired.
Zip Lines: The playground has two 50-foot zip lines. One of the zip lines features a harness seat, designed for kids who might not feel confident on the traditional seat or who need upper body support.
Sway Fun: This wheelchair-accessible piece rocks back and forth, a little bit like a teeter totter.
Tree Stumps: The park features a couple of "tree stumps" for climbing.
Raccoons: And look who is on the back of the tree stumps!
Understory Play: Underneath the main play structure and right next to those stumps with raccoons, you'll find some play panels and benches for young kids and their parents. The spaces here are a little reminiscent of the old wooden castle structure that used to be at the park. (If you're missing that old playground, there's another in the Triangle that you'll want to check out).
Plantings: Yes! The kids can touch them. The plantings are part of the playground experience and include a couple of varieties of soft grass that are fun to feel.
Adjustable Basketball Hoop: The hoop can be adjusted depending on who is playing.
Swings: Park designers know kids love swings - so they included plenty of them. There are four belt swings, four bucket swings, four harness swings (designed for kids who need more support) and a communal swing.
Original Marker: The park includes the plaque that celebrates the first playground built at Laurel Hills Park in the 1990s. That playground also was designed for kids of all abilities. The marker is a reminder of the community effort to build that playground and the new version.