Last summer I spent a few days photographing playgrounds. I was unfamiliar with this particular city, but despite getting lost on several occasions, I still managed to locate quite a few. It didn’t matter who the manufacturer was, all I was looking for was new looking structures that showcased the best of what this industry has to offer. When scouting playgrounds for photos, there is really only one simple rule—the brighter the colors the better. But for every one colorful playground, there seems to be at least a dozen rundown versions. I came across a playground that day that I’d consider to be quite common, yet it has about as much chance as a wet matchstick of appearing on one of our covers.
This particular system lacked color unless you consider rust to be one of the colors in your Lucky Charms cereal bowl. Rusted bolts, missing parts, and broken pieces were all part of its design. It was so unstable that I was afraid to get too close. The grass was last watered during the Nixon administration, and some of the weeds were actually taller than the slide. Well, I don’t know if you can actually call it a slide since the bottom leg had given out years ago.
As I was carefully walking around this contraption taking some photos for who knows why a man approached me. He owned the death trap system, and he actually tried to sell it to me. He was throwing out phrases like, “so what do you think of my vintage playground?” As well as, “make me an offer on it.” I politely informed him that I was with Today’s Playground magazine and that I was only interested in taking some photos of it. The man got a really confused look on his face, and then the light bulb went off in his head, “Oh so you want pictures of this to show people in your magazine what they don’t want right?”
Well, he made a good point and even though I didn’t know what I was going to do with these photos, I considered buying it just to keep children from playing on it. He confessed that the playground was a real liability problem and that he’s hoping someone will take it soon. In reality, the guy should just get off his wallet and tear down this rust-fest and put up a new one.
Broken down playgrounds are as common as snow in Alaska. You can find them everywhere; and if you can find them, so can children. This playground didn’t have a fence or anything to even attempt to keep children away.
Vintage is great if you’re talking about antiques or old cars. But there is nothing unique about an old and unsafe playground. Wear and tear is expected, but now might be the best time to take a second look at your old structures. And if you are looking to reinvest in a child’s future, this Buyer’s Guide is the best place to start.
Inside this issue are pages filled with biographies from leading manufacturers from equipment to surfacing companies and everything in between. This guide should have everything that you’ll need to get you started today. Tear down your vintage playgrounds and start building a safer environment today.