Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Peace and Play at Weccacoe Square Playground

Before the cheesesteaks and the Mummers, the Lenape people named the area we know as South Philadelphia "Weccacoe" - meaning peaceful place.  Weccacoe Square honors that name today, a delightfully tranquil park among mature Plane trees in Queen Village.  New playgrounds bring welcome life to Weccacoe, and are well worth the visit.

Improvements to the Weccacoe Playground include new 2-5 and 5-12 play areas, with a larger area of safety surfacing, new adjacent tables and chairs, and an impressively tall structure that brings children right next to the second-story windows of beautiful row homes overlooking the park. 


Equipment:

2-5 play area
  • A Little Tykes component post-and-deck system with metal slide.  An elevated canopy ("NU-edge Double Beam Roof") adds some drama to the structure, and welcomes opportunities for imaginary play.  There are a few nice touches here.  "Hear no evil" monkey faces are etched in the stair risers.  Metal mesh barriers provide a little more visibility than standard vertical rods, and keep the structure looking light.  At the top of the stair landing, a metal rod barrier is extruded to create a small bench.  The bench adds a little excitement by tweaking a standard element that normally has little play values.  It's a clever modification that I personally encountered for the first time.



5-12 play area
  • A Little Tykes component post-and-deck system, with a variety of bells and whistles.  Most notably, the structure rises to ~10' at the north end, an impressive height for a spiral slide, and a wonderfully elevated perch for lookout games.  Criss-crossing rope climbers allow children to scale all the way to the high post.  Unfortunately, the rope climbers and a rope bridge on the structure's back side are a little dull, and don't seem to inspire much interest.  The pitched roofs repeat a motif on the smaller structure and add to the vertical drama.
  • An arch swing structure with three belt swings, two tot seats, and an inclusive seat




Ages: 2-12, and up.  There's plenty of room to run around
Surface: Poured Rubber
Shade: 1.5? (there were no leaves for our visit, but the large trees are all on the perimeter, and trees within the play area are quite small)
Water: Fortunately if it's as sunny as it looks, there's a pole fountain that appears to be in working order.  The fountain was turned off for the season during our visit.
Other: Adjacent tennis court (neighborhood residents reserve times in advance), outdoor ping pong table, tables and chairs, and a community center.  The park is fenced, though has always been open to my knowledge, even at very early hours.

Impressions:  The matching structures at Weccacoe are quite attractive, and inspired a imaginary fort game with a large group of children while we were there, running back and forth and climbing both decks.  I imagine this may be due to their orientation (the structures seem to face one another) and the grand height of the 5-12 deck.  It's nice to see a 2-5 structure get some use by older children, although this might be just as disruptive for younger children.  The poured rubber surface appears to be exceptionally well-installed.  It's a real surprise to feel just how soft and bouncy poured rubber can be at its best - especially under a ~10' structure.  This is my first time seeing Little Tykes in the city.  I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the structures and a few features noted above, though they are just standard post-and-deck, and don't look as though they would inspire a lot of excitement for repeat visitors.  Weccacoe Square is undoubtedly a fun and greatly improved place to play, and worth a visit if you're in the neighborhood.  

Overall Rating: 7/10