During spring break to boot!
Picture this: it's day camp during spring break for children K-6th grade at the playground in Fox Lake.
While not exactly an astounding sight, and it certainly wasn't like winter in upstate New York, but it raised more than a few eyebrows. Kids playing was nonetheless one of great interest to seasoned playground watchers. Hundreds of highly active preschool and school-age children and not a single one of them on the empty but available modern and enticing play structures, swings, and slides!
Not to worry, however, there had to be a logical explanation for their collective and suddenly diverted interests. And so there was. After all, it was the 3rd of February. Typically, that's among the coldest of winter days and in many places snow could easily have been predicted.
That had to be it ... a snowfall! There were snowballs to be made and tossed at inattentive parents and cohorts. There were snow angels to be made by simply lying down and flailing one's arms and legs and there were igloos and snow forts to be built and defended; no architectural design plans were necessary.
But this was Florida, the nation's Space Coast, where winter vacations and snowbird watching were popular winter pastimes. This, however, was the Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department's seventh annual Snow Fest. Tons upon tons of pseudo-snow are trucked in and dumped on the ground, much to the delight of the children and adults alike.
"The children all love it, especially the little ones who, having grown up in Florida for the most part, have never seen the real thing.
So it's an experience they are sure to remember for some time to come. We also attract a bunch of snowbirds who probably haven't seen anything like it for a while. They get as excited as some of the kids," said Mike Barnes, Brevard County's North Area superintendent for Parks and Recreation.
"We have a range of activities for the kids. These include inflatable toys and units like the Moonwalk. We even have a rock climbing wall. Food vendors are very popular. There are several different craft activities ongoing for the children under the various shelters, too. The event is widely publicized and draws children from all parts of the county and from other counties as well," he continued.
The general diversity of the age-appropriate play structures normally available at Brevard County, Floridas' Fox Lake Park tend to help make the 32-acre regional park one of the most popular in the county, if not the state. Barnes said that this was the seventh year of Snow Fest, the sixth held at Fox Lake Park. This year the annual one-day event drew approximately 2500 people including both adults and children. The main attraction, of course, was 16 tons of trucked in manufactured "snow."
Fox Lake is only one of the 40+ county parks in the North Section. These range from a half-acre neighborhood park up to a full service 300-acre sports complex. About 20 of these are equipped with commercial play structures.
The 30.5-acre Fox Lake Park came about in the 1960s with and lake donation from the Fox family, which stated that the facility remain a county park in perpetuity. The park has, however, seen a number of changes over the years. The most noticeable of these probably was the "No Swimming" ban. Previously Fox Lake was considered a premier freshwater swimming lake. That all ceased when an alligator infestation took place. It remains, however, a most popular and highly productive fresh water fishing attraction. There is a very good paved boat launch/retrieve area. The lake interconnects with South Lake, also known as a good fishing lake.
The park has a number of covered, family-friendly pavilions. The largest of these accommodates upwards of 1200 guests. It even includes a full-service kitchen. As might be anticipated, this pavilion annually hosts a number of special events and reunions like West Virginia Days and the ever popular Polish Day. There are also the semi-annual spring and fall Craft Fair Days.
"Safety of the children is a major goal of the county's Parks and Recreation Department. For that reason we have located many of the play structures in the center of the family friendly pavilions and shelters. That way the end users are in close proximity to the playgrounds and can easily keep an eye on the children. We have also located the playgrounds where they can be accessed by several family groups holding reunions, receptions or just family picnics," continued Mike Barnes.
"Many of the play items that we have installed are designed to encourage interactivity by a number of children, rather than having single-use, stand-alone devices. We have a commercially made pulley type play structure that actually requires several children working together to operate it correctly. All of our play structures are commercially made and purchased through the county's bidding system. That gives us a diversity of structures and helps keep our playgrounds at the forefront of state-of-the-art structures. Several things that have made a significant difference in our playground safety is the increased use of long-lasting, colorfast plastics and PVC materials. Add to that the fact that metal parts are now powder coated for longer lasting salt air corrosion resistance. After all, many of our playgrounds are seaside based or subject to onshore salt air winds. This is a major departure from the way things were done in the old days. The one thing that isn't covered by this, however, is that the "snow" at Snow Fest still melts as fast as it ever did," concluded Barnes.