Takoma Park, Maryland borders the northeastern line of Washington, DC. The historic area is urban in a sense that one can walk almost anywhere and easily take public transportation, but the atmosphere is of a small town, tightknit community. Most of the homes are single-family homes with their own driveway. Residents gear up for Halloween by starting to decorate a week or two before the actual day. Colorful lights begin to appear with gory decorations of ghosts and goblins. Pumpkins are carved with scary faces of all different shapes and sizes. The setting is set to bring out the crowds of trick-or-treaters.
At 7301 Maple Avenue the setting was slightly different, so a message would ring out to the young and young at heart. Six signs were arranged on the front steps, so people could easily read them. Children and adults paused as they dashed up the walk; Play Outside Everyday, Invite a Friend to Play, Start a Playful Club at your School, Plan a Play Event, Close Your Street To Play, and Go Play! Readers would either read silently or read out loud the messages from the signs. Then trick-or-treaters would join me at the glider behind the blazing fire from the fire pit and I would hand them a treat. Waldo yelled out, “Cool, I got a kazoo.” Elsa the Princess said, “I would love to have a clown nose. Thank you.” The young shy lion, barely old enough to talk said, “I want a ball.” The lion’s Mother said, “What do you say?” The lion said in a quiet voice, “Thank you.”
As the 250 treats dwindled down, a couple of rambunctious middle school students said, “Can we have Frisbees?” I responded, “Of course, you can have Frisbees. I hope you will go out and play every day.” One of them responded, “Hey aren’t you The Play Lady?” I said, “Yes, I am and I hope you give yourself the chance to play every day.” Several of them replied, “We sure do.”
Throughout the evening children and adults responded over and over with joy in receiving a playful treat. They also seemed to enjoy the messages from the signs. Maybe next year when you are planning your Halloween, you will decide to be a play advocate and make some playful signs and give out playful treats. In the mean time I hope you will give yourself time to play every day.
For more information visit www.Takomaplays.org. Since I founded Takoma Plays! in 2009, we have put on over 50 fun free play events for people of all ages. Recently my non-profit www.Letsplayamerica.org has become official. On both websites you can watch the two TEDxTalks I gave this year. Go play!